Henri van Breda
Cape Town - After four marathon days on the witness stand, triple murder accused Henri van Breda had not resolved many of the nagging questions that have dogged his multiple murder trial from the beginning.

The big one - baffling enough to have Judge Siraj Desai voice it several times - is why Van Breda had not rushed to defend his family against the masked axeman who, he said, brutally murdered his mother, father, and brother Rudi and almost killed his sister, Marli.

This was a puzzle, given Van Breda’s superior strength, Judge Desai noted, as demonstrated by the ease with which he claimed he later disarmed the crazed killer.

“I was scared,” was Van Breda’s answer.

Read: How did blood spots get on shoes, judge asks Van Breda

State advocate Susan Galloway found it difficult to believe Rudi’s attacker had had his back to Van Breda - who was apparently standing just a few metres away - and never turned around when the accused shouted for help.

At this point Judge Desai said: “Why did you not join your father (lunging across Rudi’s bed at the attacker) and come at him from behind because he had been ignoring you up until then?”

“I think I was just too scared,” replied Van Breda.

Also baffling after 58 days of testimony is why Van Breda had persisted with an emergency call that dragged on for half an hour before an ambulance was dispatched.

Why had he not called out to neighbours for help or dialled any of the emergency numbers his mother had stuck on the family fridge?

Why had he not broken down in front of the neighbour's nanny Van Breda encountered outside his house and told her he'd been stabbed and his brother and sister were dying?

Also read: #VanBreda: Defence set counter allegations of tailored evidence

Even though the list on the fridge had included an array of emergency medical numbers and the golf estate's security control room, the list “didn’t appear to be of any assistance”, replied Van Breda - who had not thought an outsider could do a better job than him in summoning emergency services.

“Instead you tried to call Bianca (his love interest) five times What was she, a minor schoolgirl, supposed to do?” asked Galloway.

“I don’t know what I would’ve told her She was my only friend in South Africa,” added Van Breda, who said he had needed “to speak to someone”.

Possibly the most heartbreaking moment during cross-examination came when Judge Desai attempted to get to the bottom of another pressing question.

Read more: #VanBreda: I didn't kill my family, Henri tells court

“You never thought of the possibility of consoling them?” asked Judge Desai, referring to the 30-plus minutes between calling emergency services and them arriving in which Van Breda had not attended to his brother and sister, who he could hear dying upstairs.

“I didn't think I could actually help them. I thought that what I was doing was the most help I could do," Van Breda replied.

On day 58, once Galloway and defence advocate Pieter Botha had wrapped up, Judge Desai adjourned and then returned with more questions.

“Mr Van Breda, after the intruders had left your house, you said you were afraid of them. Is that correct?


“Why did you not lock the back door after they had left?”

“I probably should have.”

“I said why did you not?”

“I think I was already busy on my phone. I wasn't thinking about it.”

Judge Desai’s closing question provided a clue where Van Breda is heading.

“One thing that bothers me that I can’t understand When you saw the intruder attacking Rudi and then your father came in (he) could've gone around the bed (to the right-hand side) and tried to disarm the intruder”


“He didn’t do that,” continued Judge Desai. “He went the other way (straight from the door to the left hand side of the bed) and fell over Rudi.”

“Well he went straight at the guy,” said Van Breda. “No, no, he tried to protect Rudi.”

Van Breda will be back in the High Court on Monday, when a psychologist is expected to explain his responses on the crime scene.

Weekend Argus