Triple murderer Henri van Breda after sentencing proceedings at the Western Cape High Court yesterday. Photo: African News Agency/ANA
Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai yesterday tried several times to get a motive from axe murderer Herni van Breda as to why he killed his family. But van Breda did not have an answer.

Judge Desai said the only inference so far was that Van Breda committed the crimes out of innate wickedness - and asked Van Breda’s legal counsel Pieter Botha to give him a reason that warranted mercy.

Botha said he spoke to his client about the issue many times. “I canvassed this with (Van Breda) when I met him a week after the incident. I canvassed this before and after his conviction. I cannot.”

Botha handed the court a pre-sentencing report compiled by National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) social worker Arina Smit, who described Van Breda as a person who does not show emotion easily. 

The report said that when Van Breda arrived at one of his consultations with a social worker at Pollsmoor Prison, he had a bandage wrapped around his one foot.

Botha said Van Breda got into a physical altercation at the prison, and another inmate had come to his rescue. Botha denied reports that Van Breda had attempted to commit suicide and said Van Breda found them amusing.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway said Correctional Services staffers had said Van Breda had only a bruise on his foot and no visible scratches.

Galloway argued the impact the killings had on Marli should not be underestimated - her survival was a sheer “miracle”. Marli, 16 at the time of the attack in January 2015, now suffers from retrograde amnesia.

Galloway argued that Van Breda showed no remorse, even for his sister, “who has to grow up alone”, knowing “her brother killed her family and also tried to kill her”. The case was postponed to tomorrow.