A former security manager at upmarket security estate, De Zalze in Stellenbosch, testified in the Western Cape High Court during the trial of Henri van Breda on Wednesday, about “security concerns” while he worked there.
Defence witness Jaco Pietersen said that there had been a total of five incidents during his tenure — in one a person gained access under the Spier gate and fiddled with the camera.
Cellphone footage taken from a security screen and shot by Pietersen was shown in court to demonstrate security breaches. Pietersen told the court that three people were spotted gaining access to the estate, but the footage only showed one.
Pietersen said the man was carrying a panga, but this was not clearly visible and Judge Siraj Desai said he could not see it.
Earlier, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway objected to the defence calling Pietersen saying he was not relevant and that his last connection with the estate had been in February 2014, almost a full year before the murders.
Pietersen is the fifth defence witness to take the stand in the trial of 22-year-old Van Breda who faces three charges of murder, one of attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice for the axe killings of his parents and brother in their family home at De Zalze in January 2015.
His sister, Marli, who was 16-years-old at the time, survived the attack but suffered severe brain injuries and has retrograde amnesia.
Van Breda claims that a laughing intruder, armed with an axe and knife, was behind the attacks.
The defence has been at pains to point out security defects at the estate. Defence lawyer Piet Botha asked Pietersen about the insufficient camera coverage of the fencing, pointing out that just 35 percent of the fencing was covered by cameras.
Pietersen said: “Fencing was a security concern as the fence was old and not as good as modern fencing.”
He said residents often lent access cards to friends and family, and this was also a concern.
In May, state witness and security manager at the estate Marcia Rossouw testified about security at De Zalze at the time of the murders. She told the court that while there had been four activations on that night, they were not “true alarms”, but instead, they could be explained by a power dip.
Rossouw, who had been working at the upmarket estate since February 2014, said that when she started, improvements to security needed to be made.
The electric fence was upgraded in September 2014, while additional cameras were installed in 2015, but not as a result of the murders, she told the court.
Rossouw said one camera could turn 360 degrees, while the other could zoom in from 800 metres. Cameras were placed at all the strategic points, as well as at the gates, while an infrared camera pointed towards the river.
She testifed that the estate had two security routes, one inside the estate and the other along the perimeter. She told the court that patrols that night had been completed as required.
The Van Breda house was located in the middle of the estate.