Former South African rugby player Joseph Ntshongwana appeared in court in Durban today to face three murder charges, one attempted murder charge and an assault charge in a series of axe attacks on men he is said to have accused of raping his daughter and infecting her with HIV.

The 34-year-old man is accused of decapitating at least two of his victims. One man who reportedly escaped, 19-year-old Siyanda Khumalo, told a local paper that he was lucky to escape the attack in which Ntshongwana allegedly threw an axe at his back. Another alleged victim, 27-year-old Khangelani Mdluli, said that he ducked before the axe came down on his head and escaped with only a scratch on his stomach. Mdluli says that his attacker said to him, "Did you know we would ever meet? You think I'm stupid. You infected my daughter with HIV."

Ntshongwana reportedly says that his daughter was raped during a break-in at the family's home, though police have yet to investigate, let alone confirm, those reports.

When he was arrested, police allegedly found a bloodied weapon and clothes, as well as a car reported seen in the same neighborhood as the attacks. A police source told The Telegraph, ""He didn't seem to make any effort to try and conceal himself. He was just driving around the townships in a car, then he would get out and attack someone."

His lawyers are asking the courts to evaluate his fitness to stand trial. He is being held in police custody at least until a bail hearing on April 7.

In South Africa, studies show that 1 in 2 women can expect to be raped in her lifetime. Around 200,000 children are raped each year. A 2009 study found that 1 in 4 men admitted to raping a woman, and 1 in 8 admitted to raping more than one woman. That study, by the nation's Medical Research Council, also found that "practices such as gang rape were common because they were considered a form of male bonding."

An estimated 10.9 percent of South Africans live with HIV.

[Image via FrozenCapybara, Creative Commons licensed]