A mother and her two young sons were found dead in their Verulam home, north of Durban, in an apparent murder-suicide on Monday.
According to TimesLIVE, security company Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) were called to the home by the woman's two other children, aged 10 and 12.
The mother and two boys were found hanging from the rafters by the siblings when they returned from the shops, EWN reported.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker told EWN: "It was alleged that the mother gave them something to eat and had sent them to the shop to buy something. When they arrived home, they found them hanging."
Prem Balram, Rusa spokesperson, told TimesLIVE that the girls started screaming and neighbours then ran to the home and cut down the bodies.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele told TimesLIVE that an inquest docket into a double murder had been opened after a mother "hanged two of her children before killing herself".
"It is alleged the woman gave her two other children pills to drink before sending them to the shop," Mbele reportedly said.
Police are investigating.
In November, 44-year-old Durban father Sibusiso Mpungose was handed four life terms for killing four of his children, News24 reported.
Mpungose was handed the sentence in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg after pleading guilty in October.
He had pleaded guilty to hanging Kuhlekonke, 4, Khwezi, 6, Siphesihle, 10, and his step-daughter Ayakha Jiyane, 17, on September 3, in Wyebank, Pinetown.
Mpungose said in his plea that he killed his children because he believed his wife was cheating on him.
- Compiled by Riaan Grobler