Orthopaedic surgeon Graham Dickason ‘wailed’ after finding two-year-old twins Karla and Maya and their older sister Liane, six, at their home in Timaru.
Mr Dickason was confronted with the horror at 10pm on Thursday when he returned home after attending a work function at Timaru Hospital.
His wife Lauren, 40, also a doctor, appeared at Timaru District Court last night accused of murder.
She entered no plea and was remanded to a secure mental health unit until her next appearance, at Timaru High Court on October 5.
The couple, married for 15 years, had only been released from 14 days enforced Covid quarantine in a hotel following a flight to South from their previous home in South Africa before their daughters’ deaths.
Mr Dickason was heard by neighbours screaming “is this really happening?” when he arrived home.
“The first noise we heard was somebody sobbing, and then we heard a loud thud like someone just slammed a door,” the neighbour Jade Whaley told Stuff.
“We could see someone through our fence wandering behind the house and wailing.’
Another resident, Karen Cowper, described hearing a man crying and saying ‘is this really happening?”
“We asked him if he was okay. He did not respond to us and was screaming and crying hysterically,’ Ms Cowper said.
Neighbours in Timaru watched as Mr Dickason was consoled by another doctor who lived next door.
His wife was taken to hospital after police arrived minutes later.
A former neighbour in South Africa, who did not want to be named, said the couple were very “grateful” for their children.
“They absolutely adored those children. They were so grateful for having them because they struggled to get pregnant and when they finally got the children, they loved them,” the neighbour said.
The couple’s former nanny in Pretoria, Mendy Sibanyoni, said there was nothing in their background to suggest a troubled family.
Both parents had “loved their kids like nobody’s business,” said Mrs Sebanyoni, who Mrs Dickason had described in a Facebook as an “angel”.
No cause of death for any of the three girls has emerged.
Judge Dominic Dravitzki ordered a report under New Zealand’s Crimes Act to ascertain Mrs Dickason’s state of mind at the time of the killings.
She was led from the cells wearing a light grey hoodie and black trousers to make a brief appearance to hear the charges for the first time last night.
According to information on her Facebook page, Mrs Dickason went to Pretoria High School for Girls before reading medicine at Cape Town University.
She graduated in 2004. In 2007 she became a GP at Pretoria East Hospital Orthopaedic Theatre.
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