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Killer was Van Breda, not intruder – prosecutor

Publish date: 13 February 2018
Issue Number: 4398
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: general

Triple-murder accused Henri van Breda returned to the Western Cape High Court yesterday to hear the state's closing arguments in the case, notes a report on the IoL site. Senior prosecutor Susan Galloway told the court it was Van Breda, and not an intruder or intruders, behind the axe attack on his parents, Martin and Teresa, and his siblings, Rudi and Marli. The attack, of which only Marli was a survivor, was inflicted with the intention to kill, said Galloway. She added that the fact that Marli survived was 'not indicative of a lesser attack, but rather a miracle'. Galloway said there was no evidence of forced entry, nor was there evidence of a 'hit' on the family. The court heard that no valuables were taken and the attack was not consistent with a house robbery or armed robbery. There was also no foreign DNA found on the scene. The prosecutor said Van Breda had opted to call emergency services at least two hours and 40 minutes after the attacks, and despite the fact that the estate was manned by security guards, had cameras on its perimeter, and three manned access points. He had also not attempted to help his siblings, who were still alive at that stage, according to evidence during the trial, and instead 'chose to smoke three cigarettes'. She also argued that all the family members had similar wounds inflicted by the alleged murder weapon, but Van Breda only had 'superficial injuries'. The two murder weapons found on the scene, according to evidence from the family's domestic worker, belonged to the family.

Full IoL report

Galloway questioned what she had called the ‘fortuitous’ diagnosis of a form of a epilepsy during the dying days of the defence leading evidence in chief. She said the alleged ‘seizure’ that Van Breda had on the night of the murders was something he could have fabricated since nobody else was a witness. A TimesLIVE report notes that she also rebuked several defence witnesses for not being ‘objective’ and said that they simply tried to poke holes in the state's case without providing any credible evidence of their own to the contrary. She also scathingly accused Van Breda of having a ‘selective memory’ – recalling details where it suited him‚ retrofitting his story in light of what had already passed in court‚ and simply answering ‘I don't remember’ or ‘I was scared’ when the provision of any detail might work against him.

Full TimesLIVE report

Judge Siraj Desai criticised defence DNA expert Dr Antonel Olckers, accusing her of being on a ‘fault-finding’ mission, notes another report on the IoL site. Olckers was hired by Van Breda's defence team to test the validity of DNA evidence presented by state witness and chief forensic analyst at the police's forensic laboratory, Lieutenant Colonel Sharlene Otto. Galloway said Olckers merely criticised the process, and did not do any analysis of her own. ‘We submit that her evidence was of no value.’ Desai seemed to agree: ‘She didn't say x, y and z were wrong. I'm not saying she isn't entitled to give evidence. But there should be some limits on this.’ Galloway said there had been no contamination of evidence and whatever ‘mistakes’ were noted are simply human nature: ‘She also didn't say because of those mistakes your results are wrong.’ Desai said her evidence had taken up about 20% of the trial and said there should be legislation on whether this kind of evidence should be permitted. The defence is set to present its closing arguments today.

Full report on the IoL site