In a horrific four-hour incident, a Kezi man axed his uncle's three children to death, raped their mother and a neighbour.
He went on to stab his aunt and left her for dead before torching six huts at his father's homestead.
The man, identified by relatives as Ndodana Ncube (38), committed the bizarre crimes on Monday night in the adjacent villages of Msetshana and Silawa, about 28km east of Maphisa Growth Point.
A policeman who was stunned by the brutal nature of the crime called Ncube "the son of Satan" while his grandfather said he was Lucifer himself.
Two women that Ncube kidnapped reportedly said he cursed daylight, saying it was denying him a chance to kill more people as he preferred "working" under the cover of darkness.
Although villagers said they did not know what caused Ncube to go haywire, Police said it was a dispute with his uncle over wages for a menial job.
Ncube's aunt, Mrs Mavis Ngwenya (40) said the children that Ncube killed were Khulekani, a boy aged five, and his sisters, Sithandekile (8) and Mbhekeni Zondo (3).
Mrs Sehlulekile Ngwenya (30), a neighbour who spoke to the victims narrated the hair-raising ordeal to Chronicle at Msetshana Village yesterday afternoon.
"Ncube left his uncle at Maphisa business centre and went to his homestead towards midnight. He knocked on the door and told his uncle's wife that his uncle had sent him with a message," said Mrs Ngwenya.
She said when his uncle's wife opened the door, he kicked the door and ordered her to stop breastfeeding her 18-month old baby.
"He ordered her to strip naked and when she refused, he threatened her with an axe that he was carrying," said Mrs Ngwenya.
She said Ncube then raped her while her children watched.
"He then demanded a piece of paper to roll a cigarette. After smoking, he saw that his uncle's wife had dressed up. He forced her to strip and raped her again," said Mrs Ngwenya.
She said Ncube then ordered her to dress up and force-marched her to a neighbour's homestead.
Mrs Ngwenya said Ncube kidnapped the neighbour's wife and forced the two women to run in front of him, going back to his uncle's homestead.
"When he got there, he said he wanted to fix his uncle's wife. He took the axe and struck the five-year-old boy in the neck. He pulled it out and struck the three-year-old girl in the head and the axe got stuck again. He retrieved it and hit the eight-year-old in the head, the child stirred and he struck her once more. The three-year-old's twin sister survived because she was hidden by a blanket that was hanging from the bed," said Mrs Ngwenya.
A neighbour who was part of the group that finally hunted Ncube down, said Ncube then forced the two women to run in front of him to his aunt's house, whom he said he also wanted to kill.
"He made them knock on the door and when his aunt, Ms Rebbeca Ndlovu, opened the door, he showed her the axe and said he was going to kill her because she was a witch. He hit her in the jaw with the axe. She fell down and he produced a pair of scissors and stabbed her in the neck, leaving her for dead," said the neighbour.
Mrs Ngwenya said Ncube then forced the women to his father's homestead at Silawa.
"Apparently, he had not satisfied his lust for killing. He set fire to six huts and four children were sleeping in two of them. Ndodana got angry when one of the children, a girl in Form Four, broke down the door of her hut and rescued her siblings in another burning hut. He chased after them with the axe but failed to catch them," she said.
Mrs Ngwenya said Ncube led the women to his grandfather's homestead where he said he had "some more people to kill".
"He saw some lights at the homestead and changed direction. He said he was angry that daylight was fast approaching. He took the women to a thicket, where he raped the neighbour's wife twice," said Mrs Ngwenya.
She said Ncube then demanded money from the women and was given $40 by the neighbour's wife.
A group of men who started hunting for Ncube in the morning after the news of his gruesome exploits spread, found him sleeping on a hill.
They reportedly severely assaulted him before handing him over to the police.
"Ncube was admitted to Maphisa District Hospital with his aunt, but he was later released into police custody," said a neighbour.
When the news crew visited the area, villagers were gathered at the homestead of Ncube's uncle.
Pools of congealed dark blood were still in the room where the children were killed.
Their parents had gone to Maphisa business centre to make burial arrangements.
Ncube's grandfather, Mr Joye Moyo (88), who is also the Msetshana village head, said he wished the people who found Ncube had killed him.
"I survived because he thought I was awake. That boy is the devil. I have never seen such cruelty. I hope he will die," said Mr Moyo.
Acting police spokesperson Sergeant Loveness Mangena, confirmed the incident and arrest of Ncube.
She said he was facing murder, attempted murder, robbery, rape and malicious damage to property charges.
"On Sunday night at around 10pm his uncle engaged Ncube to load and offload gold ore at their stamp mill for a fee of R100.
"The two later helped each other to offload the gold ore and continued until the following day when they started milling the ore at around 5pm.
"During the course of the work, Ncube then demanded that he be paid more than R5 000 for the job," she said.
Sgt Mangena said investigations were still in progress and Ncube will appear in court soon