Van Breda: All you need to know

2017-03-26 08:00
Henri van Breda leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Henri van Breda leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - He was painted as a suspect from the start, but it took police almost a year-and-a-half to arrest Henri van Breda and charge him with the murder of his parents and brother.

On Monday, he will go on trial on charges of killing his father Martin, mother Teresa and older brother Rudi van Breda with an axe, and of the attempted murder of his sister Marli in the early hours of Tuesday January 27, 2015.


Henri van Breda. (Conrad Bornman, Netwerk24)

Henri is the middle child of Martin and Teresa.

He was 20 at the time of the murders. He suffered only superficial injuries, which include knife wounds. According to the State, it has expert medical opinion that the wounds were self-inflicted.

In 2016, the now 22-year-old attended a Woodstock culinary school and had reportedly been living with relatives since the January 2015 bloodbath.

Following the crimes, reports emerged that Henri was a drug addict and that his parents had cut off his allowance.

The Sunday Times reported that a drug runner known as Mark identified Henri from a photograph and said he had been a regular customer.

It was alleged that he used tik (methamphetamine), which has been linked to aggression and violence.

Claims in media reports included that Henri had spent time at an upmarket drug rehabilitation centre in Cape Town a year before the murders.

His aunt, Narita du Toit, in an interview with YOU magazine, rejected allegations that he was a drug addict.

Henri's girlfriend, Danielle Janse van Rensburg, told the magazine she believed in his innocence. They started dating after meeting at chef school.

The couple was arrested after being found in possession of dagga in September.

At court proceedings before the start of his high court trial, Henri had appeared aloof and never said a word to the media.


Martin and Teresa van Breda. (Supplied)

Martin van Breda, 54, was a successful businessman with directorships in at least 25 companies.

He had a number of interests in the education and property sector and owned the Australian subsidiary of international property group Engel & Völkers.

The Van Bredas lived in Perth for a number of years before moving back to SA in 2014.

His Australian business associate, Paul Freney, told Sunshine Coast Daily that Martin was "a very well-liked man".

Van Breda reportedly founded Netstar which he then sold to Altech, and developed Woodhill College, a private school in Pretoria, before JSE-listed Curro Holdings bought it from him for R185m in 2011.

Other business interests included directorships of investment, property and education companies, including Edugro Holdings and Meridian colleges in Polokwane, Pretoria, and Rustenburg.

He was a director of an education fund, and of Smartscan, which provides machine-guarding and safety products.

Van Breda previously held directorships of Waterkloof Security Village, Meridian College, Woodhill College, and Woodhill College Property Listings.

A family friend told News24 Martin was quiet and calm.

According to media reports, Martin and his son Rudi's bodies were found in a bedroom of their De Zalze home.

Teresa van Breda was 55 at the time of her murder.

Described in an Instagram post by her daughter Marli as a "lovely woman", she studied computer science at Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg) and previously worked at IBM, according to her Facebook profile. She was from Johannesburg, and lived in Perth and Stellenbosch.

Teresa's body was found alongside a severely injured Marli on a balcony of the family's home.

Her husband's Australian business associate Karl Rademeyer told Sunshine Coast Daily he had on a few occasions joined the Van Bredas for dinner while they lived Down Under.

He described them as a close and "lovely family" and that their children were "awesome" and respectful.

Another of Martin's Australian business associates, Paul Freney, told the publication that Teresa was a "lovely lady, a practising Christian".

Teresa's sister Narita du Toit told YOU magazine that she did not believe that Henri was behind the murders.

A close friend of the family told News24 that Teresa had been excited to be going to Italy, where she would have taken part in a cooking course. 

Rudi van Breda. (Facebook)

Rudi van Breda, 22, was studying towards his Master's degree in engineering at the University of Melbourne.

After the murders, the university said it was "greatly saddened" by his death.

He attended Trinity College until 2011 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2013.

"A Dean's honours list member for Science in 2011, Rudi was a keen sportsman and was highly regarded amongst his peers as a good-natured and friendly person, someone who was always willing to lend a hand and help out younger students," the university said in a statement.

On his Facebook account, which has since been renamed "Remembering Rudi van Breda", friends described him as warm, kind and a "unique person".

In an Instagram post after their murders, Marli posted a photo of her father and oldest brother, captioning it "the people I love the most".

His school friend, Sam Fearon, wrote a song about his death. Listen here.


Marli van Breda. (Supplied)

Marli van Breda was 16 at the time of the attack. She sustained severe head wounds and a severed jugular and, after being hospitalised for six weeks, was treated at a rehabilitation centre.

She has retrograde amnesia and cannot recall anything about the attack.

Marli returned to school in June that year. The Western Cape High Court ruled that she be placed in the care of her aunt and uncle.

She and Henri saw each other again six months after the axe attack.

Following his arrest in June, her legal representative and curator Louise Buikman said the news had been "very distressing" to Marli.

She has not attended any of the court proceedings following her brother's arrest.

The only daughter of the Van Bredas turned 18 in October.

The Western Cape High Court ruled that although she is legally an adult, Buikman would continue to oversee matters concerning her.

The advocate was authorised to continue acting on Marli's behalf, to help her in legal proceedings and in making decisions about her therapy and schooling.

Buikman is to report to the court on Marli's progress to determine if she still requires a curator by the end of January 2018.

Strong case

In addition to the murder and attempted murder charges, Henri was also charged with defeating the ends of justice. He allegedly inflicted injuries on himself, tampered with the crime scene and misled police about the true identity of the perpetrator.

The NPA repeatedly sent the docket back to the investigating officers to ensure that once charged, the State had a solid case against Van Breda, spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

The prosecution had "refined" its investigation and believed it had a strong prima facie case.

Eric Ntabazalila on why it took so long to charge Henri:


Read more on:    henri van breda  |  cape town  |  crime  |  van breda trial  |  van breda murders

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