Triple murder accused Henri van Breda in the dock at the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Courtney Africa/ANA Pictures
Cape Town – A friend of Henri van Breda’s took the stand in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday where she described the family as “normal”.

Bianca van der Westhuizen met the van Bredas at a family braai in January 2014.

She said she had spent about two and half weeks with Henri van Breda in January 2015 when she was a matric learner at Somerset College.

She had spent the family’s last weekend before the attacks with them at their home in the upmarket security estate de Zalze in Stellenbosch.

Van der Westhuizen said she had not been dating Henri, but they had been “spending time together as friends”.

Asked about the family dynamics, she said “everything seemed normal, I had a lovely time with the family”.

On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the State alleges 22-year-old Henri van Breda used an axe to kill his mother, father and older brother. His younger sister Marli, who was 16-years-old at the time, survived the attack.

On the Monday, the day before the killings, Henri dropped van der Westhuizen off at her school at about 5.15pm. She told the court that was the last time she saw him before the murders.

Later that night, at about 10pm, she sent him a whatsapp: “I didn’t notice there was anything wrong”.

The next time she saw him was at the police station on the Tuesday.

The first person van Breda phoned after the murders was van der Westhuizen. She testified that she received a call at 4.24am and again at 7.20am.

But, she said her phone had been on aeroplane mode and was “effectively off”.

She received a whatsapp from him that there was an “emergency” when she connected to wifi just before her first class, but her call to him went unanswered.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway asked her why she thought he had contacted her that night. The pretty blonde woman became emotional and battled to hold back tears when she told the court: “I just assume he didn’t have anyone else to call”.

She further testified that she didn’t know Marli well, but they attended the same school, albeit in different grades.

“His relationship with Marli seemed close, they were the closest”, she told the court.

She said he admired his brother a lot and that the two had spent time together in Australia when the rest of the family returned to South Africa.

Van Breda has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder, one of attempted murder and one of defeating the ends of justice.

He claims that a laughing, axe wielding intruder wearing a balaclava killed his family.

On Thursday, Marli’s boyfriend at the time, is expected to take the stand.