An 81-year-old pensioner, Bennie Woycieh, of Kei Road, near Bhisho, was found dead in a pool of blood on Wednesday.
He had been stabbed 14 times in the stomach and three times in the chest.
His niece, Charmaine Tessedorf, said her family had just finished lunch when Woycieh went outside to empty a bucket.
They started to panic when he did not return. His wife went outside to look for him and found him dead.
"It's heartbreaking for the whole community of Kei Road [a tiny rural community near King William's Town] that Uncle Bennie was murdered in this way," said a weeping Tessedorf.
"He was a soft-hearted, gentle and kind person who was always prepared to go out of his way to help.
"It is devastating that he had to die this way, being stabbed 17 times," said Tessedorf.
Police are investigating a case of murder.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the murder might be gang-related.
Tessedorf said the local community has been plagued with robberies.
No arrests have been made.