NEW LOOK: Henri van Breda in the Cape Town High Court. He is accused of murdering his parents and his brother. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA)
NEW LOOK: Henri van Breda in the Cape Town High Court. He is accused of murdering his parents and his brother. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA)

#VanBreda: Judgment set down for April 23

By Catherine Rice Time of article published Feb 14, 2018

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CAPE TOWN - The mammoth trial of 23-year-old triple murder accused Henri Van Breda is finally drawing to an end after 66 days.

Judge Siraj Desai postponed the case to April 23 for judgment to give himself enough time to "evaluate the evidence".

Van Breda is accused of murdering his parents, Martin and Teresa, and older brother Rudi. He faces a charge of attempted murder for the attack on his sister Marli, who was 16 years old at the time and who the state argued surived because of a "miracle" rather than a lesser attack. 

The attack in the family home in the De Zalze, Stellenbosch security estate in January 2015 shocked the country, and the sensational trial has dominated headlines ever since.

Van Breda claimed a laughing, axe-wielding intruder, also armed with a knife, and wearing a balaclava and gloves was behind the vicious attacks.

Defence advocate Piet Botha, in final arguments, on Wednesday insisted that this version was reasonably possibly true and dismissed the state's "narrative", saying evidence it presented was of "poor quality" and that it had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

He was at pains to point out that crime is a daily occurrence in South Africa and argued that the "mere fact that there was gratuitous, terrible violence does not mean it can be inferred that it was someone close to them".

In reply to the defence's arguments, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway said contrary to the defence's assertions, the State's case was not that the security estate was impenetrable, but rather that there "was no evidence of unlawful entry or anyone entering undetected".

"There was no evidence of any vehicle speeding away or driving away from 12 Goske street". 

ALSO READ: #VanBreda: Judge concerned by 'highly frenzied nature of attack'

Furthermore, there were no big holes in the fence at the time of the incident, nothing suspicious was noted, there had been no reports from the control room nor residents, and nothing was stolen from the family home. 

She said two spots of blood found on the adjoining wall of the Van Breda property "were more likely spattered from the boys' window". 

She said blood spatter expert Captain Marius Joubert testified that there were no drops of blood left by a person exiting the house. "This does not support Henri's version that the attacker fled the house". 

Joubert reconstructed the scene based on the blood spatter patterns, and "formed an opinion that Van Breda's version was highly improbable".

In response to the defence's argument that Van Breda's version was consistent, Galloway said "this is not true".

"The accused amended material aspects of his version." 

She said the fact that Marli and Teresa's blood was not found on Van Breda's body were merely "anomalies", as found in "most criminal cases".

She also picked apart the defence's contention that the two hour and forty minute time lapse between the attacks and Van Breda's call to emergency services had not been because of an epileptic seizure, pointing out that defence witness Dr James Butler had "reluctantly conceded he (Van Breda) could have been malingering".

The defence's explanation for the time lapse was a loss of consciousness from a seizure followed by a "postictal state" that would have left him unable to think clearly.

Galloway said much of the defence's argument rested on possibilities put to state witnesses during cross examination.

"Possibilities ought not to be elevated to fact."

She said four out of five members of the Van Breda family were brutally attacked and left for dead, yet the accused was left standing, having lived through the event.

His injuries, allegedly self-inflicted, "were different to the rest of the family". 

"The only reasonable inference is that the accused is the attacker." 

African News Agency/ANA

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