Analysis - Was the Van Breda family broken from within?

2016-06-14 09:06
Henri van Breda (Facebook)

Henri van Breda (Facebook)

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Cape Town – On January 26, 2015, multimillionaire Martin van Breda, 54, his wife Teresa, 55, and their son Rudi, 22, were hacked to death in their home on the luxury De Zalze golf estate in Stellenbosch.

From this gruesome killing emerged a series of questions and feverish speculation. Centred around it, was Henri Van Breda, now 21, who was the only surviving member of the family who did not sustain life threatening injuries. His younger sister Marli sustained a severe head injury while Henri escaped with only scratches.

She now suffers from retrograde amnesia and reportedly cannot remember the events of that night. Marli, who was 16 at the time, and Henri, 20 at the time, were the only surviving family members present that night.

Recent events

Henri on Monday handed himself over to Stellenbosch police alongside his attorney Lorinda van Niekerk. He has since been charged with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

On Monday night Van Niekerk said she was unavailable to speak to News24.

National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said his office could only comment after Henri went to court.

Henri is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

Trail of mystery

Investigations into the murders were frustrating, but suspicion had at a point fallen on Henri. Early on, reports indicated he could be a suspect in the murders.

It emerged that Henri only called paramedics four hours after the attack, and speculation was rife that his own wounds may have been self-inflicted.

The youngster was thereafter linked to a tik addiction - a drug that is often associated with sporadic violent behaviour. It was reported that he had even visited a rehabilitation facility. However, Henri’s blood was never tested after the attack on his family.

Witness statement

On March 9 last year the NPA received the murder docket for the attack on the Van Breda family.

"We have the docket for a decision," Ntabazalila said at the time.

Speculation and a lack of evidence left authorities with little to work with. Police hoped Marli’s recovery could provide a witness statement. On March 10 she was discharged from hospital after almost six weeks. She was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia and had no recollection of the incident.

Advocate Louise Buikman, Marli’s attorney at the time had told News24: “It is unlikely she [Marli] will remember the incident. Her recovery will take a long time but, given the circumstances, [it] has been nothing short of miraculous.”

A week after it emerged Marli was out of a rehabilitation facility and staying with friends, it was reported that Henri travelled to Klerksdorp. Police indicated they were closely monitoring Henri’s travels. However, neither the police nor extended family would say why the surviving siblings were not immediately reunited.

Five months after the attack, it was reported that the siblings met and that Marli was happy to see her brother. Within a few weeks of reuniting, Marli was placed under the care of her aunt and uncle as instructed by the Western Cape High Court.

Family matters

Soon after, Teresa van Breda's sister said speculation that Henri, her nephew, had murdered his family was incorrect.

Narita du Toit told the weekly You magazine that 20-year-old Henri was a “lovely child” who would never attack his family.

Du Toit said one could tell when “a child has done something wrong” but with her nephew “there was nothing”.

She told the magazine that rumours that Henri was on drugs, had been in rehab and a psychiatric clinic, were untrue.

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

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