Marathon Van Breda trial wraps up testimony
Publish date: 04 December 2017
Issue Number: 754
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
Henri van Breda's defence team wrapped up its testimony in the Western Cape High Court last week, with its final witness saying the accused could have possibly attacked his family before suffering an epileptic seizure. This, neurologist Dr James Butler said, according to a News24 report, could explain why the triple-murder accused had a two-hour-and-40-minute lapse before he phoned emergency services. Butler's testimony concludes 63 days of evidence led in the trial in which Van Breda is accused of murdering his parents Teresa and Martin, and brother Rudi with an axe, and seriously injuring his sister, Marli. He has pleaded not guilty to the murders and a charge of defeating the ends of justice. Closing arguments by Advocate Susan Galloway, for the state, and defence Advocate Pieter Botha are expected in February, and judgment in March. On Wednesday, Butler, sticking to his diagnosis that the accused had juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, maintained that Van Breda's behaviour was not consistent with someone who was possibly malingering. During cross-examination, however, he agreed that it was more probable that Van Breda's self-inflicted injuries would have occurred after the murders, but before the seizure and postictal state (recovery period after a seizure). Referring to the defence's focus on Van Breda's wet pants, which Butler said would have resulted from a seizure, Judge Siraj Desai pointed out that Van Breda's family had been murdered and wet pants were a minor consequence. Butler, however, said he would argue the opposite as the incontinence was of profound significance.