House number 3 235 on Hlakola Street in Sebokeng, Zone 13, is an incomplete double-storey structure which usually doesn't draw much attention.

But since last week, residents and neighbours have flocked to the house following a tragedy that has left a family broken.

Early on Friday morning, a 22-year-old man stabbed his mother and three siblings, before trying to take his own life.

Police minister Bheki Cele said government needed to take a tougher approach towards perpetrators of gender based violence on Saturday in East London.

The 43-year-old woman and her 4-year-old daughter died on the scene, while the suspect's 16-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister were rushed to hospital.

Neighbours stood at their gates discussing the tragic incident that happened in the early hours of Friday morning.

Some with hands on their cheeks, others still in night gowns, walked past the incomplete double-storey house where the incident took place.

The man, who is also in hospital, allegedly stabbed to death his mother aged 43, 4-year-old sibling and left his 16-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister hospitalised with stab wounds.

The husband of the murdered woman and father of the 22-year-old was away when the stabbings took place.

Neighbours described the family as quiet, who respected and loved people.

A neighbour who asked not to be identified said the suspect was a respectful young man and was shocked that he had allegedly committed the offence.

"That boy is very sweet and handsome. He would always come to my house to greet me, or would even ask me how I am whenever we met on the street. I don't believe what I have heard.

"I wonder what possessed him to turn on his family. I was expecting a lot from him. He was like my own son. I loved him because of his well-mannered behaviour," the neighbour said.

She said she was woken by screams coming from the house.

'He must be punished'

"I heard screams and I thought it was drunk people who were fighting on the street. Later, I was again awoken by neighbours screaming for help. I went out and was told what had happened. I almost collapsed because of shock. I still don't believe that the boy I loved and respected could have done such an ugly thing," said the woman.

Another neighbour said she went outside to see what had happened when she was woken by screams.

"I saw the 16-year-old boy running out screaming for help. As a woman I was afraid to go and see what happened inside that house. I waited until I saw police arriving and that is when I learnt what had happened.

"If only I was a man with strength, I would have went into that house and assisted them. Unfortunately, as a woman, maybe he could have stabbed me too. I am speechless and don't know what to say. I hope he heals quickly and faces the law.

"He must be punished for what he did," she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Teboho Lephoto said the man was under police guard in hospital after he allegedly attempted to kill himself.

Lephoto said the suspect would face two charges of murder and two of attempted murder.