Cape Town - Henri van Breda, convicted on Monday of the brutal axe murders of his family at their luxury Stellenbosch security estate in 2015, spent his first night behind bars in the sectioned off hospital quarters of infamous Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, where he would have found himself surrounded by several men whose own trials have made headlines in recent months.
Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella, who allegedly killed his American marketing executive girlfriend Gabriela Alban Kabrins, is also being held in the hospital section after his lawyer convinced the court that he was at risk of being assaulted in overcrowded prison cells.
Van Breda is also likely to run into Spanish dentist Mario Yela, accused of murdering his three-year-old twins, in the hospital section.
The Western Cape High Court found 23-year-old Van Breda guilty on all five counts related to the murders of his parents, Martin and Teresa, and his brother Rudi, as well as the attempted murder of his sister, Marli, who was 16 at the time.
The final count related to a charge of defeating the ends of justice after the court found he had tampered with the crime scene, given police false information and had self-inflicted injuries to make it appear as if he was a victim himself.
Judge Siraj Desai rejected a plea from his defence counsel that his R100 000 bail be extended, saying: "You have been convicted of serious offences, the interests of society dictate that you should be incarcerated."
Senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway, in arguing against his extended release on bail, told the court Van Breda was a flight risk as he was not employed and had a "strained relationship with his remaining family members".
Botha said Van Breda was on anti-depressants and epilepsy medication which he needed access to, but Desai insisted medical certificates be handed in to correctional services.
On Monday, after a mammoth trial that spanned 66 days, Van Breda was found guilty of the murders which made international headlines, given that Martin van Breda was a prominent businessman with directorships in at least 25 companies, including several in the private education sector, and had owned and run the Australian arm of renowned international property group Engel & Völkers.
The Van Breda family had lived in Perth in Western Australia for a number of years and had returned home to South Africa in 2014, reportedly purchasing the house at 12 Goske Street in the De Zalze Golf Estate in the name of Merwood Consultants for R4.6m.
Martin and Teresa, an IT expert, and Henri's brother Rudi were stabbed and bludgeoned to death with an axe on the night of 27 January 2015, while 16-year-old Marli barely escaped with her life and was rendered unable to testify as a state witness because of retrograde amnesia.
Battling to stay awake during the lengthy judgment, Henri van Breda was emotionless throughout and appeared to possibly be medicated, his eyelids drooping with exhaustion.
Few details have emerged about Henri's relationship with his sister Marli, but it was widely publicised that she was very happy to see him for the first time six months after the attack in early 2015. But that was before the State began to piece together the events of that January night and the court found discrepancies in his testimony and began to pick apart oddities in his version of events.
Marli survived severe injuries to her head and jugular vein. Her skull was cracked in the attack and she had to undergo neurosurgery. During the trial the State said she survived not because it was a lesser attack, but rather because it was a "miracle".
This was reiterated in Desai's judgment on Monday when he ruled that the attacks were carried out with the intent to kill.
Henri van Breda claimed a laughing, axe-wielding attacker was behind the murders, but Desai dismissed his version as "nonsensical", and said it was improbable that an intruder would enter the Van Breda house in a security estate in Stellenbosch unarmed. Furthermore, nothing was stolen and the murder weapons, an axe and knife, came from the house itself.
"It is significant that nothing in the forensic evidence categorically excuses the accused as the attacker," Desai remarked.
Van Breda also claimed that there was more than one intruder and that he had heard angry voices, but Desai pointed out that when he contacted emergency services two hours and forty minutes after the attack, he only mentioned one intruder.
"According to his plea explanation, the attacker was a black person, strong and well built, wearing dark clothing, black gloves and a homemade balaclava. He said he would recognise the eyes of the attacker and said he noticed black around the whites of his eyes."
According to the judgment, Van Breda conceded that he had given a stereotyped description of the intruder.
"It seems odd that the killer would have killed the entire family and left just one person alive," Desai said during his lengthy judgment.
Desai further found that the 25-minute emergency call, made only two hours and forty minutes after the attack, was extremely long and deemed it strange that "he did not help or console his family members". Evidence was heard during the trial that at one point his brother Rudi could be heard gurgling, while Henri recalled seeing the badly wounded Marli moving around.
"He also did not think a neighbour could help as they were not medical professionals," Desai said during his scathing judgment.
"The accused displayed a peculiar lack of empathy," Desai found.
Desai further found there was no credible evidence that an intruder had entered the estate. "The court has no reason to reject the evidence of state witnesses."
He said the accused was singularly unimpressive as a witness and that his answers were vague, and that he attempted to adjust his answers subtly, contradicting himself in the process.
Desai said there was no evidence of a security breach on the estate and no evidence of a typical house robbery. Four out of five family members were brutally attacked, yet the accused was left standing.
Van Breda stood as Desai convicted him. His girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg, whom he met after the attacks, sobbed at the back of the courtroom as the verdict was read out.
It is likely Van Breda's legal team will appeal once the sentence is handed down on June 5. But it is unclear where the money will come from for the legal fees. Botha told the court several times during the trial that Van Breda's funds were running out. As per South African law, die bloedige hand erf nie (the bloody hand cannot inherit), and the Van Breda's vast fortune has been estimated at around R200 million, with Marli likely to now inherit the entire estate.
The office of Advocate Louise Buikman confirmed to the African News Agency (ANA) that Buikman will continue in her role as Marli's lawyer and curator.
Marli's future care arrangements, and whether Buikman will continue to oversee legal matters pertaining to Marli, will be heard in the Western Cape High Court on June 11.
African News Agency/ANA