Cape Town - Senior State prosecutor Susan Galloway told the Western Cape High Court on Monday that a "prima facie case has been made" in the trial of 23-year-old Henri van Breda accused of the vicious axe attack on his family, that left his parents and older brother dead.
In closing arguments, Galloway said the attacks on his parents, Martin and Teresa, and his siblings, Rudi and Marli, were inflicted with the intention to kill and the fact that Marli, who was 16 years old at the time, survived was "not indicative of a lesser attack, but rather a miracle".
Galloway detailed the security at the upmarket estate De Zalze in Stellenbosch where the vicious axe attacks took place on January 27, 2015.
Despite the fact that the estate was manned by security guards, had cameras on its perimeter, and three manned access points, Van Breda opted to call emergency services at 7.12am the morning, at least two hours and forty minutes after the attacks.
His first phone call had been to his girlfriend Bianca at 4.24am, "a sixteen-year-old minor who lived in a hostel".
Furthermore, during the almost three hour time lapse, he did not try and help his siblings, who were still alive at that stage, according to evidence during the trial. Instead of comforting them, "he chose to smoke three cigarettes".
Galloway argued that all the family members had similar wounds inflicted by the alleged murder weapon, but the accused presented with only "superficial injuries on his torso, left arm and back".
She said both mother Teresa and sister Marli were found in close proximity to the room that brothers Rudi and Henri shared. Rudi and father Martin were found in that bedroom and a knife, also used in the attack, was found partially hidden under Rudi's bed.
Galloway said there was no evidence of forced entry, nor was there evidence of a "hit" on the family. Evidence by Martin's brother during the trial indicated that he was an honest businessman with no enemies.
The two murder weapons were found on the scene, and according to evidence from the family's domestic worker, belonged to the family.
She said that the attack on Rudi had been the most violent and that he had suffered the most injuries which fitted in with police evidence that it was a "rage attack".
The only two people who had no self defense wounds were Henri himself and his father Martin. This, Galloway, said could be explained by evidence that the attack on the father was a "surprise" one, and that he had moved to protect his son Rudi.
Henri's wounds, however, were superficial and "self-inflicted".
She said 12 Goske street was surrounded by other houses and "an intruder or intruders who would have gained access would have had to move undetected past a number of other houses, both coming and going".
Yet there was "no breach of the perimeter, and nothing suspicious was noted".
No visible valuables were taken from the scene and this "was not consistent with a house robbery or armed robbery".
She said none of the victims made an attempt to hide or call for help.: "That is because the attacker was known to them."
No foreign DNA was found on the scene.
Galloway also detailed the evidence of the emergency services call operator who testified that Van Breda lacked emotion during the call. "His demeanour was so unusual, the operator thought it was a prank."
She said blood stain analysis also showed that a mixture of both Henri and Rudi's blood found in the shower of their bathroom was further evidence against the accused. The accused "conceded that the attacker never entered the bathroom".
"Blood cannot move of its own volition."
Van Breda testified that his DNA could have been found there as a result of him cutting himself while shaving in the shower. "But it was not just the accused's DNA, it was a mixture of Rudi and Henri's DNA. That would imply that both the accused and Rudi shaved in the shower, cut themselves while shaving, and it was not cleaned, and it ends up on in the same spot in miniscule amounts."
She said no blood spatter was found on the accused's torso and neck. "The only visible blood spatter was on his shorts and socks."
"The accused's version that he ran after the attacker could not have occurred. He said he was not in close proximity to his mother, yet his blood was found on her sock."
She said the two anomalies of the case had been the lack of Marli's DNA on the axe, as well as the absence of blood on the bottom of Van Breda's socks.
During the trial, bloodstain analyst, Captain Marius Joubert testified that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". He said it was possible to assault a person and not have a single drop of blood left on you, a point reiterated by Galloway on Monday.
Galloway also highlighted the discrepancies in Van Breda's plea explanation and his testimony in court, submitting that it was "quite apparent that he amended his version as an afterthought".
She said Van Breda had made a poor impression as a witness, spoke confidently and in a "superior manner" at times and gave a "well rehearsed" version of his plea explanation.
"He at all times tried to reason his decision-making and demeanour during and after the attack. Even when he couldn't remember something he tried to justify his decisions."
She described him as having "selective memory loss", able to recall great detail in some instances, but in others nothing at all.
Furthermore, he could not explain why the intruder or intruders had chosen the Van Breda house in the middle of the estate, did not remove valuables, attacked the family with "extensive chop wounds", but left an eyewitness "virtually unharmed".
She also questioned his explanation of a loss of consciousness for the almost three hour time lapse between the attacks and calling for emergency services. "The accused's explanation changed at the very end of the trial to epilepsy."
Defence witness Dr James Butler testified that Van Breda could have suffered a seizure after the attacks and then been in a "postictal state". He told the court Van Breda's brain would not have been working well, which could also explain Van Breda’s lack of urgency when he called emergency services. "People are slow, sluggish and dull."
But Galloway said even Butler conceded that Van Breda could have been malingering.
Butler had testified that he would not have been able to strategise or make rational decisions in a postictal state, but Galloway said he had been able to use the landline after trying to contact emergency services from his cellphone, had smoked cigarettes to calm down, and had been able to direct paramedics to the family home.
African News Agency/ANA