Judge Siraj Desai revoked his bail, but agreed that Van Breda could be held in the hospital section of Pollsmoor prison. He told defence lawyer Piet Botha that Correctional Services must be provided with medical certificates to justify that decision. Botha had argued that his client was on anti-depressants and chronic medication for epilepsy.
Van Breda, 23, attacked his family members, killing his parents and brother, in the early hours of January 27, 2015. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of his sister Marli, who was 16 at the time, and suffered retrograde amnesia, rendering her unable to testify in the trial.
Van Breda was also convicted of defeating the ends of justice for tampering with the crime scene, giving police false information and self-inflicting injuries to appear like a victim himself..
The attacks happened at the Van Breda family home in the centre of a Stellenbosch security estate, De Zalze.
Van Breda claimed that at least one, possibly two intruders, were behind the murders. He claimed that a laughing, axe-wielding intruder, wearing dark clothing, a balaclava and gloves was behind the bludgeoning attack on his family. But Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai dismissed his version, and said it was “nonsensical” intruders would have entered the family home and fled without taking anything.
He said the attacks on the family members were carried out with the intent to kill.
He also found that the axe and knife used in the murders were both from the Van Breda house.
Judge Desai said there were a number of discrepancies in Van Breda's police statement, plea explanation and testimony.
Van Breda claimed that the intruder attacked his brother first, and his father second and seemed unconcerned by Henri's presence in the corner of the room he shared with his brother.
This was peculiar, Judge Desai said.
Further, Judge Desai said Van Breda did nothing to help his father or brother during the attack.
The accused stated in his plea explanation that he heard angry voices after the attacker fled from the room, but Judge Desai found it “strange” that the same scared person, after realising there were more intruders in the house, gave chase.
Van Breda, who claimed he had gained control of the axe during a scuffle with the attacker, said he had thrown the axe at the attacker as he fled down the stairs.
Judge Desai said it was strange that he also did not secure the house after the intruders fled through the kitchen door, leaving it open. It was also “odd” that such a ruthless killer ran away despite being disarmed. It would have been easy with knives in the kitchen drawer, for two perpetrators to overpower the accused and kill him.
“It seems odd that the killer would have killed the entire family and left just one person alive.”
Judge Desai said the 25-minute emergency call, made only two hours and 40 minutes after the attack was extremely long.
“He did not help or console his family members.
“He also did not think a neighbour could help as they were not medical professionals,” Judge Desai said.
“The accused displayed a peculiar lack of empathy,” he said.
He found there was no credible evidence that an intruder entered the estate. “The court has no reason to reject the evidence of State witnesses.”
Judge Desai said the accused was singularly unimpressive as a witness and that his answers were vague. He attempted to adjust his answers subtly, contradicting himself in the process.
He 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.
He found that Van Breda’s injuries were self-inflicted. “The version of the accused is inconsistent with the objective evidence on the scene.”
The “cumulative effect” of all the evidence completed the puzzle with only one reasonable inference. Judge Desai said Van Breda had time to tamper with the scene and portray himself as a victim.
Van Breda stared straight ahead during the judgment, showing no emotion while his girlfriend sobbed at the back of the courtroom. - African News Agency (ANA)