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#VanBredaTrial: Loud argument gave witness a 'fright'

Crime & Courts
Cape Town – A neighbour who lived across from the Van Breda family at the De Zalze Estate in 2015, testified that on January 26, 2015, at about 10pm, she heard loud male voices arguing, coming from the Van Breda home.

State witness Stephanie Op’t Hof was called to testify in the trial where Henri van Breda is accused of murdering his mother Teresa, his father Martin and his brother Rudi.

He is also charged with the attempted murder of his sister Marli, who has since been suffering from retrograde amnesia.

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A neighbour of the Van Breda family testified that on January 26, 2015, she heard loud male voices arguing, coming from the Van Breda home. Picture: Courtney Africa

Op’t Hof, a mother of two, was renting a home across from the Van Breda family. She told the Western Cape High Court that she had moved to the estate for safety reasons.

“My husband works overseas, so I wanted to live somewhere safe. I felt very safe in the time that I lived there,” she testified.

Op’t Hof, an interior decorator, said she had put her sons to bed about 8pm because she had a lot of work to do.

About 10pm, while working on her laptop in a quiet living room she said: “I heard loud male voices arguing. I actually got a fright because it was very loud. It went on until after 12am, then I went to sleep around 12:10am. ”

She also stated: “I have never heard this kind of noise at the estate before.”

However, she could not hear exactly what they were saying.

Defence advocate Matthys Combrink questioned what Op’t Hof may have heard.

He insinuated that it could have been the sounds of the television because Henri, his father Martin and his brother Rudi were watching Star Trek 2 that night, to test their new sound system.

He posed: “If you can’t hear what people are saying, how can you distinguish between whether the voices are coming from the television or people?”

“Your brain can distinguish,” she replied.

Op’t Hof kept stating with certainty that she knows what she heard and where it was coming from. She could not account for how many voices there were, but she was sure it was more than one.

The next State witness to take the stand was Janine Philander, an employee from the City of Cape Town’s emergency communication centre.

Philander answered Henri’s emergency call.

She testified: “I have been working here since 2012."

“During the week I receive up to 100 calls per day."

"It escalates over the weekend and month-end."

“On the morning of 27 January, 2015, I received a call from Henri for an ambulance."

“He was hesitant on the phone. I heard what sounded like a giggle, so initially I thought it was a prank call.”

Philander further testified that Henri’s call did not sound like the typical home-invasion calls she has received.

“Henri was very calm and helpful."

“It was longer than any other home-invasion call I’ve received. It was around 20 minutes,” she said.

Philander’s testimony continues, where the recording of Henri’s emergency call will also be played in court.

Cape Times

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