Cape Town - Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai has sentenced 23-year-old Henri Van Breda to life behind bars for the "savage" attacks on his own family in January 2015.
Van Breda was sentenced to three life terms for the murders of his parents, Martin and Teresa, and his older brother Rudi. He was further sentenced to 15 years for the attempted murder of his sister Marli, who was 16 years old at the time of the attacks. On the count of defeating the ends of justice, he received 12 months.
The sentences will run concurrently which means Van Breda will only be able to apply for parole, which will not necessarily be granted, 25 years from now. Van Breda was last month convicted of the brutal axe attacks on his family at their home in the security estate De Zalze in Stellenbosch on January 27, 2015.
Desai said the murders had been carried out with "unbridled violence" against his immediate family and no motive had ever been revealed to the court. "You have not told the court what precipitated these crimes. We know from an independent witness that there was a loud argument in the hours before. They were not committed in a vacuum and there was disgruntlement which was graphically displayed in post-mortem reports".
Desai said defence lawyer Piet Botha had "simply and bluntly" raised two mitigating factors in Van Breda's favour - his young age and the fact that he has no previous convictions. Van Breda was just 20 years old at the time, and Desai said while he lacked maturity he was on the cusp of adulthood.
Van Breda had a "bright future ahead of him and a supportive family who would have assisted him with his future endeavours".
Now, however, he faces a life behind bars. "Long imprisonment will deny you the opportunity and privilege of growing old in an open society."
The acts had been committed with "innate cruelty", were premeditated and were carried out with the intent to kill.
"You axed three people, and endeavoured to do so with the fourth. They were your immediate family. You never told the court why."
All of the victims sustained similar injuries, sharp and blunt force trauma to the head. "Marli was the victim of a similar attack but fortunately survived.
"You survived with inconsequential injuries. These attacks show a high level of innate cruelty and disregard for the welfare of your own family. Each attack warrants the severest penalty possible."
The violence had been "unbridled" and his victims had been unarmed and defenceless. "It was cold-blooded murder. It was excessive and gratuitous and intended to cause maximum harm."
"We have no explanation for what you did, you have no remorse. No substantial and compelling circumstances have been placed before us, there appear to be none."
Van Breda appeared unmoved in the dock as he stood and solemnly listened as sentence was handed down. The defence plans to appeal both the conviction and sentence and Judge Desai will hear that application on June 27.
African News Agency/ANA