Highbury Media’s legal expert Tracey Stewart was back taking notes on Day 6 of the Van Breda murder trial. Here’s the story as it happened today:

Adv Susan Galloway introduced her 3rd witness this morning at the Van Breda murder trial. Edgar Wyngaard took the stand, the second patrol officer who was on duty with previous witness Lorenzo Afrika that night.

Wyngaard was Afrika’s supervisor at the time of the murders and both would work night duty at the estate and conduct patrols. They worked independently in that they had their own vehicles but were constantly in contact with the control room and one another.

Wyngaard’s evidence was far shorter than Afrika’s and he supported what Afrika had already told the court yesterday – a large amount of Wyngaard’s evidence was a repeat of Afrika’s. However, both witnesses were consistent in their versions.

I’ve broken down the defence points about the possible security breach below, but overall, I think the state has a lead with strong evidence on the security of the perimeter boundary that night. Of course, there is the elephant in the room – the Thorburn Security Report. Interestingly enough, the report refers to a patrol having been conducted at zone 39 at 01:41am on January 27th, shortly before the murders are alleged to have taken place.

This being approximately five minutes after the alleged alarm activation at zone 39.

When asked who conducted the patrol at zone 39 at that time, Afrika said it must have been Wyngaard and Wyngaard said it must have been Afrika. So if neither guard conducted that patrol, who did?

I think we are going to have to wait quite a bit longer to find out more about this report. The defence have introduced it, so they will likely call the author as a witness and the state will have the opportunity to cross-examine that witness and test the report. Perhaps there is a perfectly reasonable explanation?

What the state has shown about De Zalze that night:

  1. There are internal and external perimeter fences
  2. The fences are electrified and were in working order
  3. The fences have alarms which are activated in the event of tampering (frogs can activate these alarms) no alarms were activated (remember the report is only an exhibit, it is not yet evidence)
  4. There were 44 security cameras around the perimeter of the estate the regular camera checks had been done and all was in order
  5. Physical checks of the fence were conducted several times during the night all was in order
  6. Wyngaard drove past the Van Breda residence 6/7 times that evening
  7. No noise reports logged by any residents
  8. The security cameras were checked on the evening of January 27th and nothing unusual detected
  9. The perimeter fence was checked on the evening of January 27th and nothing unusual was detected
  10. The patrol guards on duty only found out about the incident after they had finished their duty and left the estate at around 7 am on January 27th

Another important point, having considered the state’s evidence, is that I think it would be fair to say that a reasonable person, who was a resident of De Zalze, would have likely reached out to security in any sort of emergency.

The matter has been adjourned until Monday morning at 10am. The state and the defence have been exchanging video footage and other documents in preparation for the next witness, who we believe to be the De Zalze Estate Manager.

SO, WAS THERE AN INTRUDER ALERT?

If you’re as interested in the story as the rest of Cape Town is, here is Tracey’s breakdown about the main points the defence seem to be relying on to support their client’s version – that an intruder attacked his family.

Possibility of scaling the perimeter fencing without being detected

Both Afrika and Wyngaard dismissed this as a possibility. The first simple reason being the height of the fence, but even if two people helped each other to get over they would at some stage have been electrocuted or triggered the alarm. Wyngaard was at first persistent to state that this was impossible but eventually confessed that to try to do so would be very risky.

Judge Desai, having previously conducted an inspection of the estate, seemed to accept Wyngaard’s version.

I also think that Desai will not be able to ignore the fact that if he is to find Henri’s version to be possibly true, the intruder/s would have had to conduct the risky exercise of scaling the fence gloved, wearing balaclavas and carrying at least a bloodied knife after dodging two patrol vehicles, potential residents and perimeter security cameras.

Possibility of gaining access to the estate through the entrance/exit gate

Wyngaard gave evidence of the process to enter and exit the estate. He explained that residents are issued access tags and they always tag in to enter the estate. He went on to state that visitors may have borrowed a resident’s tag and gained access using it, or that visitors may have accessed the premises without being logged as a visitor if they were a passenger in a resident’s vehicle (who was in possession of an access tag).

This line of questioning didn’t provide much relief for the defence. In the re-examination, Galloway confirmed that the area where access tags are swiped is monitored with cameras so security knows who has swiped in.

Wyngaard also told the court that in cases where builders were going to be on site regularly they will need to register by scanning their fingerprints and ID documents, with security ensuring they exit the estate after work every evening.

I think it is safe to assume that, unless further evidence is lead that there was an instance of unauthorized access picked up on the day, the alleged intruder didn’t gain access through the entrance gate.

20 police reports in 2014 up until the incidents where the suspects were not caught

The defence read out details of police reports about incidents which had occurred within the estate where nobody had been apprehended for the crimes. All the reports referred to related to the theft of relatively low-value items; he mentioned a camera and a compressor. The type of items that could have been swiped by an opportunist who had lawfully gained access to the estate and was passing by an open door during the day rather than armed break-ins.

Wyngaard didn’t know of every incident and he stated that it would be important to know if they happened during the day or at night as he was on duty at night only.

It’s probably safe to assume at this stage that, without evidence to the contrary, Wyngaard didn’t have knowledge of these incidents because they happened during the day and/or the residents accepted that they weren’t breaches of the estate security and thus reported it to police rather than the estate security.

That brings Day 6 to a close. More interesting developments with many details still to emerge. We’ll resume coverage next week when court adjourns on Monday. 

Photography K-Leigh Siebritz / HM Images

Article written by

Tracey Ann Stewart

Legal expert and counsel for Highbury Media