Jaco Pietersen testified for the defense today in the ongoing Henri van Breda triple axe murder trial. Pietersen was introduced to the court as an ex-security manager employed at the De Zalze Estate.

Shortly before his testimony, the State led by Advocate Susan Galloway, objected to the witness taking the stand, insisting that he was not an “expert witness” but Judge Siraj Desai allowed Pietersen to continue.

The ex-security manager’s tenure at the upmarket estate ran until February 2014 – nearly a year before the attacks took place. However, he was well versed with the security systems deployed at De Zalze, including areas where he says intruders may have penetrated. These flaws in the security were exposed in court by Pietersen, but as per the prior testimony from the current De Zalze Estate security manager, Marcia Roussouw, the security aspect of these areas have since been beefed up.

Pietersen spoke of the pumphouse near the R44 freeway, where it would have been easy to gain access before barbed wire was installed. He also referenced the Klein Zalze bridge within the estate, which allowed public access to the restaurant and guesthouse. Furthermore, he described the problem of access cards, which were often lent to friends, family and staff. This issue had to be addressed with residents often, he told the court.

He also testified that during his tenture, 190 incidents were recorded with no successful burglaries – only attempted break-ins. Accounts of theft were put on record, as were misplaced items by owners who later discovered they had not been stolen. Pietersen told the court that there were no security cameras inside the estate, only around the perimeter.

A brief video containing footage taken on May 2013 from Pietersen’s cellphone of the CCTV control room was shown to the court. It showed thermal imaging of an intruder just inside the perimeter of the estate, which according to the witness was a suspect carrying a panga. Desai said he could not make out the weapon in the grainy footage but the witness maintained his view.

In May 2017, more than three years after leaving his post at De Zalze, Pietersen visited again to take photos of holes in the estate’s various perimeter fences. These were shown to the court as exhibits. Included was a photo of  two guards sleeping in a security hut.

During cross-examination, Galloway asked why material of such a confidential nature was still in his possession, considering that he had left his employment there nearly four years ago. “You’re not supposed to keep this sort of evidence on your computer this long after leaving your employ,” she told him.

Pietersen’s testimony concluded, and Botha told the court that he is considering bringing in two more witnesses, to which Desai agreed without objection.

The van Breda trial resumes on Monday, 30 October at 10am. Follow us on Twitter for live updates.


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