Son found guilty of murdering family with axe

CAPE TOWN: Henri van Breda sits in the dock at the Western Cape High Court to hear the verdict in his trial yesterday. – AFP

CAPE TOWN: A South African judge yesterday found a man guilty of killing his wealthy parents and brother in a frenzied axe attack that also left his sister severely injured. Henri van Breda, 23, had denied murdering his 21-year-old brother Rudi and parents Martin, 54, and Teresa, 55, and leaving his sister Marli struggling with near-fatal injuries to her head, neck and throat. During the trial, he told the court that a late-night intruder had entered the family’s home on an exclusive highly-guarded estate in Stellenbosch, outside Cape Town.

But judge Siraj Desai systematically took apart the defense case in a five-hour summary of the trial before delivering a verdict that Desai said “as a family man, it’s difficult” to deliver. “After considering all the evidence, the result in inescapable,” Desai said, finding van Breda guilty on three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, as well as obstructing justice. “That the accused was the perpetrator of the crime is the only reasonable conclusion,” he said.

“No evidence of a typical house robbery or breaking is evident. Four of five members of family found brutally attacked in similar fashion and left for dead… The accused was left standing, having lived through the events.” Van Breda, standing in the dock, showed little emotion as the verdict was read out, while his girlfriend wept in the back of the court.

Believing he was about to be arrested, van Breda turned himself in at a local police station 18 months after the killings. The trial has generated fevered interest over a privileged son allegedly unleashing a savage attack on his family, whose fortune – estimated at $16 million – was derived from property. Van Breda’s claim of an intruder had echoes of the defense used by Oscar Pistorius, who said he thought a burglar was hiding in the toilet to explain why he fired four times through the door, killing his girlfriend. In a recording of van Breda’s call to emergency services, he said his family members were “bleeding from the head” before he appeared to giggle briefly. With close-shaven hair and a beard, Van Breda was accompanied to the packed courtroom by his girlfriend. – AFP

This article was published on 21/05/2018