CAPE TOWN - Defence advocate Piet Botha spent Tuesday trying to convince the Western Cape High Court that his client, Henri Van Breda, should be acquitted of all the charges against him.
He argued that the evidence before the court fitted in with Van Breda's version of what happened in the early hours of the morning at the family's home in the De Zalze security estate, Stellenbosch on January 27, 2015.
He told the court that the State had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt in the trial of 23-year-old triple murder accused Henri Van Breda.
He said the State's case was based on speculation, and that evidence presented by the State was of "poor quality".
Van Breda has claimed that an axe-wielding intruder murdered his father and mother, Marin and Teresa, and his older brother Rudi. His sister Marli, who was 16 at the time, survived but suffered severe injuries, had retrograde amnesia and could not testify in the trial.
The State believes that Van Breda was the attacker, tampered with the crime scene and that his injuries were self-inflicted in an attempt to make it look like he too was a victim.
In final arguments, Botha told the court that if Van Breda had been the attacker "you would expect him to be drenched in blood". There was no blood on his upper body or arms which Botha said fitted in with his version that he had been in close proximity to his father and brother during the attack, but had not witnessed the attacks on his sister or mother.
"The DNA investigation did not yield evidence of a single profile of Marli or his mother on the accused's shorts. There were various bloodstains of Martin and Rudi. Again, it fits in with his version that he was close to them and not close to Marli and his mother".
Botha said the version Van Breda gave on January 27 was months before the DNA analysis had been completed.
"His narrative, as to his whereabouts when the attacks took place, is later corroborated when the DNA test results are received".
Judge Siraj Desai questioned why no trace of foreign DNA was found on the crime scene: "There should have been some indication of this alien person".
But, Botha insisted that this too fitted in with Van Breda's version. The lack of foreign DNA could be explained by the fact that, according to Van Breda, the attacker was wearing a balaclava and gloves.
Furthermore, Marli's DNA was not found on the axe: "It refutes the State's case."
Botha suggested that Marli could have been attacked with a second weapon by a second attacker.
"The absence of Marli’s DNA and of his DNA on her, flies in the face of the Locard’s principle (‘every contact leaves a trace’), repeatedly
referred to by State witnesses."
"Moreover, the contact between the weapon that caused Marli’s injuries and her skin-, muscle-, bone-, blood-, bone and brain- matter happened at least 8 times, during an intense, prolonged struggle. That there would have been a lot of contact between her and her attacker during the prolonged struggle is also self-evident."
The suggestion of a second axe was met with derision by Judge Desai: "Its such an improbable story".
Botha insisted that it was possible: "Gratuitous violence during home invasions happens every day in this country. Why is it improbable that the attacker got one axe from the house and brought in a second axe?"
Desai also criticised Botha for not calling defence witness Dr Reggie Perumal to testify about Van Breda's alleged self-inflicted injuries.
Botha said they had had to consider finances as Perumal was from Durban, but Desai pointed out that he had sat in court and observed for two days and could have been called then.
The defence is expected to wrap up final arguments on Wednesday.
African News Agency/ANA