A man who reported his 2-year-old stepdaughter as missing allegedly told his friend he was responsible for her murder, Kwazulu-Natal police said on Sunday.
Police officers had fruitlessly searched Hammarsdale, west of Durban, after he reported her disappearance, said Colonel Thembeka Mbhele.
On Sunday morning, the man is believed to have told his friend that he had beaten the child to death and buried her in a shallow grave.
His friend took him to a nearby police station.
"The police went to the scene, the suspect's house, and the child was found buried in that shallow grave," said Mbhele.
He was arrested and a murder case was opened.
The child's body was taken to a mortuary.