Henri van Breda has been found guilty of three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the Western Cape High Court today. Henri is guilty of savagely hacking to death his father Martin, his mother Teresa and his brother Rudi, and attempting to kill his sister Marli, at their luxury De Zalze Estate home in Stellenbosch on January 27, 2015. He has also been found guilty of obstructing the ends of justice.
Judge Siraj Desai concluded his judgment on Monday afternoon saying: “The court finds that there is no credible evidence that an intruder entered the estate and the house that night. He was fully conscious and responsible for his actions for the period before any alleged seizure took place. The accused was the perpetrator of the crime as the only reasonable finding.
“The cumulative effect completes the puzzle there is only one reasonable inference even if the court were to ignore the DNA evidence, the court finds that the accused had sufficient time to tamper with the scene. In the absence of any intruder, the only reasonable inference is that the accused wanted to mislead the police and the court and staged the scene,” said Desai.
He said, the result is difficult to say as a family man, the accused has been found guilty of every single count.
The judge withdrew bail and ruled that Henri be remanded into custody, at the hospital section of Pollsmoor prison, on condition he provides medical evidence of his illness.
Talking through his judgment, Desai said at the beginning he would only present a summary of the events by prior arrangement with the defence and the prosecution.
Judge Desai made important points on the following matters during his judgement:
1. Highly improbable that intruder could access the estate undetected. Despite lengthy cross examination the defence was unable to present actual evidence of a security breach.
2. The conduct of the accused after the attack on the family is inexplicable. He failed a search attempt for emergency services, not going to neighbours, not using the numbers on the fridge, phoning Bianca, not comforting his family and instead smoking 3 cigarettes.
3. A neighbour, Stephanie Op’t Hof heard an argument at the house on the night of the attack. Henri refuted it saying it was a Star Trek movie. Desai accepts her testimony as she was a strong witness.
4. The court accepts that he suffers from epilepsy. The only other source of information regarding the incidents is the girlfriend. She did not testify. The fact is that Dr Butler did not examine the accused at the time nor in February 2016, but much later on.
5. Experienced members of the SAPS testfiied that the crime scene was not consistent with what is ordinarily a break in, open bag on the table as well as laptops and cellphones, nothing was stolen.
6. Sgt Marlon Appolis testified that one axe was found at the crime scene, no indication of a second axe. Although Precious and James (housekeepers) were aware of the presence of the axe, the accused distanced himself and said he did not know the family had an axe in the house.
7. Marli’s touch DNA was found on the axe, she probably touched the axe while defending herself, Marli’s attack was more or less at the same time as Teresa’s it highly unlikely that she was attacked by another intruder. All of Marli’s wounds were on her left side except for one, the absence of Marli’s blood could be explained because the injuries were not close to each other, blood spatter may be directed away from the attacker.
8. In the emergency call he did not state that there was a second intruder, no allegation of more than one intruder was made that morning.
9. If the intention of intruders was to kill the occupants of the house, they would at least bring their own weapons, strange that this person wore gloves a balaclava and laughed while attacking. The attack on the accused was not with the same intensity as the attack on his family.
10. Henri had superficial cuts on his chest a superficial stab wound on his chest and a stab wound in his stomach most the cuts barely broke the skin. Professor Johan Dempers said the self inflicted wounds were text book, they were made with the tip of the knife, also stated that it is highly unlikely that these were made in the circumstances the accused described.
11. Captain Marius Joubert’s conclusion in regards to the number of stains made by EMS personnel on the scene, patterns suggest Rudi was dragged and moved from the bed, through a pool of blood, the duvet of the accused’s bed was removed after the blood shedding event.
12. Captain Candice Brown testified that ballistics tests on the wall where the axe had been thrown was done so intentionally. The court notes that the mark in the wall is rather straight, a controlled action would probably create more straight or linear marks than an axe thrown.
13. In cross examination Henri conceded he gave a very poor description of the attacker, that nobody would be able to place the attacker based on his description.
14. Family’s dog Sasha – no statements were made that the dog barked, Henri testified that he could not remember if Sasha barked but he didnt think she did bark she was sickly at the time. It seems unlikely that Sasha would not have barked at the intruders.
15. Accused testified that he did not know what he intended to do when he followed the attacker after disarming him, he left the kitchen door open without locking it, strange that he did not secure the house by at least locking the back door.
16. It’s odd that such a ruthless killer ran away with at least one perpetrator, there were plenty of other knifes in the kitchen, it seems odd that the killer would wipe out and entire family and just leave one person.
17. Accused appeared to be content to have a long conversation while every second went by where he could try and save his family, even if he just sat with his family members to comfort them, peculiar lack of empathy, while his family was dying.
Picture: Nidha Narrandes