Henry Van Breda has been charged with the murder of his parents and brother, and the attempted murder of his sister. Picture: Tracy Adams/Independent.
Cape Town – Henri Van Breda had previously revealed in his plea explanation that he had grasped the axe which had been used to murder his parents and brother, but according to Sergeant Jonathan Oliphant – who collected the fingerprints from the scene – there were no fingerprints found on the axe handle.

This was revealed in the Western Cape High Court on day 14 of the Van Breda family murder trial.

Oliphant, who works for SAPS Criminal Record Centre, revealed that 53 prints were found at the Van Breda house, but not all of them were usable. Usable prints should be able to result in a positive identification.

He explained that the prints of the Van Breda family, their two domestic workers, gardener and Marli’s ex-boyfriend, James Reade-Jahn, were identified.

He also gave evidence that Henri's right thumb fingerprint was found 15cm from the tip of the blade of the knife, one of the weapons used in the attack.

During cross-examination by the defence, it was revealed that there were unidentified prints at the house – on the patio door of Henri's room and a fingerprint found on a bathroom door frame.

Oliphant said the unidentified prints didn’t necessarily belong to an intruder but it could have belonged to a visitor.

Besides Henri’s print on the knife blade, there were two other prints, but those were unidentifiable.

Earlier in his testimony, Oliphant said he checked the boundary wall of the Van Breda house four times for prints with the naked eye, a special light and chemical but found no prints or proof of activity.

Defence lawyer Pieter Botha had brought this up, when he asked if it was possible for someone wearing gloves to leave no trace. Oliphant replied that it was possible.

Judge Siraj Desai questioned the lack of fingerprints on the handle of the axe. Oliphant said either gloves were used, or the tool was wiped down after the attack.

The next witness, Dr Marianne Tiemensma, a forensic pathologist at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, was called in to comment on Henri’s injuries.

Dr Tiemensma's report read that the wounds Henri sustained to his legs, forearms and chest were “superficial, minor, non-fatal and are in keeping with what is consistent of self-inflicted wounds”.

The wounds to Henri's face and back were unlikely to be self-inflicted, but they could have been self-inflicted, Dr Tiemensma said.

When Galloway questioned Tiemensma about the amount of blood on the steps in the Van Breda house where Henri said he fainted, she said that it did not appear consistent with his level of injuries, but that it would depend on how he fell on the step.

A heated discussion was raised in court as Galloway was about to question the witness about the scene, when Botha objected, and stated that he had previously told the state prosecutor that he had wanted his pathologist present during Tiemensma’s testimony.

Galloway said Tiemensma had a busy schedule, and that Botha had said his pathologist would only be available next week Tuesday. Judge Desai listened to their arguments and gave the lawyers a 20 minute break to come up with a solution.

Following the break, it was decided that Dr Tiemensma would stand down, and return on Tuesday to continue her testimony when Botha's pathologist is available.

The judge then adjourned court until Monday where another witness while testify in the meantime.

Henri has been charged with the murder of his parents and brother, and the attempted murder of his sister.

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Cape Argus