Convicted axe killer Henri van Breda leaves the Western Cape High Court during one of his trial appearances.
Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai did not mince his words when he called convicted murderer Henri van Breda a “cold-blooded” killer.

Van Breda was sentenced to three life sentences on Thursday for the 2015 murders of his parents and older brother.

He received an additional 15 years for the attempted murder of his younger sister, and a further 12 months for defeating the ends of justice.

In passing sentence, Judge Desai said the murders reflected that Van Breda showed an “unprecedented degree of disregard for his parents and siblings”.

“You had the support of a family. You carried out a savage and continuous attack on the victims,” said Judge Desai minutes before sentencing Van Breda to an effective 91 years in prison.

Martin van Breda, his wife Teresa and eldest son Rudi died at the scene following the January 27, 2015 axe attacks.

Daughter Marli, then 16, sustained severe head injuries and a severed jugular.

Van Breda claimed the family had been attacked by an axe-wielding black man.

Judge Desai said that the truth about what had unfolded at the Van Breda home would never be known and that the court had only heard from a witness that there had been a “loud” argument.

“You have not told the court what precipitated the murders. The court can only assume that the crimes were a product of something, disgruntlement, perhaps,” he said.

The judge lambasted Van Breda for the attack on his family, particularly because they were unarmed when they faced “an axe-wielding son”.

The evidence, in the form of pictures, showed that Martin “made small attempts” to protect Rudi.

Before passing sentence, Judge Desai looked at Van Breda, who remained stone-faced, and said he asked himself whether a long sentence would have an impact on his health.

“A long prison sentence will also deny you the privilege of growing old in an open society,” added Judge Desai. NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told reporters outside court that Van Breda would be eligible for parole after he had served one of his life sentences, which is 25 years.

Van Breda’s lawyers immediately applied for leave to appeal. That hearing has been set down for June 27.

He will remain in the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison, where he is being treated for depression and anxiety.