Henri van Breda murder trial postponed for cross-examination of first witness

Henri van Breda. Picture: Catherine Rice/ANA

Henri van Breda. Picture: Catherine Rice/ANA

Van Breda is accused of killing his parents and older brother with an axe.

The Western Cape High Court on Wednesday postponed the case against murder accused Henri van Breda until May 2 when the first police officer who arrived on the crime scene will be cross-examined.

Sergeant Adrian Kleynhans gave his evidence-in-chief on Monday and told the court he had arrived at the high security De Zalze Estate in Stellenbosch at about 7am on January 27, 2015.

He testified that Henri van Breda was not crying when he arrived, but seemed emotional. He said the house did not look like it had been burgled, as in his experience it would look “deurmekaar” (all over the place). Laptops, a handbag with cash in it, and televisions were untouched.

Van Breda has been accused of killing his parents and older brother with an axe. He is also accused of attempted murder – his sister, Marli, who was sixteen years old at the time, survived, but suffered a serious brain injury and has retrograde amnesia. Van Breda also faces a charge of defeating the ends of justice.

On Monday, in his plea explanation, he claimed that a “laughing” axe-wielding intruder was behind the killings, that there was more than one attacker, and that they spoke Afrikaans.

He also believed the one that he confronted, and “easily disarmed” was a black man who was wearing a balaclava.

On Wednesday, the minutes of an inspection-in-loco the day before, were handed in to the court.

Defence lawyer Pieter Botha started court proceedings by asking the judge to warn the media about reporting accurately, and accused an Afrikaans newspaper of publishing an inaccurate sketch of the inside of the family home.

The inspection-in-loco was attended by media, but journalists were not allowed inside the house.

Botha pointed out to the court that the house had no burglar bars, and a person could easily climb through the window.

He also said blood drops had been found on the boundary wall of 13 Goske Street, next door to the Van Breda family home.

He further pointed out that posts at the gate of the estate could be scaled: “One could climb the fence and jump over by putting a foot on the padlock, grabbing onto the concrete pillar, and jumping over”

Judge Siraj Desai countered: “Its hazardous and extremely difficult”.

The estate is surrounded by electric fences and has twenty four hour security guards. Cameras were also installed in January, 2015. State prosecutor Susan Galloway said the security management would be testifying, and Botha’s point could be argued at a later stage.

The case was adjourned to Tuesday.


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