Henri van Breda avoids gruesome pics of dead family

Cape Town - Murder accused Henri van Breda sat on the far end of the dock in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday in a bid to avoid seeing photos of his murdered family members.

Pathologist Dr Daphne Anthony, who conducted the autopsies of Martin, Rudi and Teresa van Breda, took to the witness stand, confirming that all three died due to the consequences of their traumatic head injuries.

According to her findings, both Rudi and Martin were alive after the attack, due to blood being found in their stomachs, indicating that they were still able to swallow.

Teresa had been facing her attacker when she was hacked. She suffered sharp and blunt head trauma and died fairly quickly, Anthony said. In addition, she had extensive blood loss.

A defensive injury was found on her thumb, ostensibly from shielding her face from the blow.

LIVE: Henri's brother Rudi 'suffered the most violent attack'

Severe altercation

Martin had been hit from behind, suffering head and upper back injuries. He had no defensive wounds and is suspected to have bled out.

Rudi, in addition to his extensive head injuries, also had a wound to his pinky finger, indicating he had tried to protect his head.

Anthony was handed the axe used in the murders, noting that the instrument corresponds with the nature of the wounds.

Describing it as heavy, she said the chop wounds were caused by the sharp edge.

"If inflicted with a tremendous amount of force and speed, it is possible to inflict the type of injuries described," she testified.

She said Marli's wounds also corresponded with the injuries sustained by her parents and brother, but factors which could have led to her survival include her age - as younger people will survive longer - as well as the severity of her wounds and the amount of blood lost.

The then 16-year-old appeared to have had a more severe altercation with the attacker, and had a variety of defensive wounds.


Anthony postulated that Rudi's injuries showed he was lying on his right side and shielded his head, meaning he was aware of what was coming.

This resulted in an incised wound on his pinky finger.

Henri appeared upset at times.

After a short adjournment, he sat on the steps leading down to the holding cells, temporarily out of sight.

Judge Siraj Desai at one point looked for the accused, who then returned to his seat in the dock.

Last week, clinical forensic specialist Dr Marianne Tiemensma testified that Van Breda's wounds were superficial and typical of self-inflicted injuries.

The only injuries he was unlikely to have caused were those on his head, back, and leg, she said.

The 22-year-old is on trial on charges of murdering his parents Martin, 54, and Teresa, 55, as well as his brother Rudi, 22, with an axe, attempting to murder his younger sister Marli, and defeating the ends of justice.

He has pleaded not guilty, claiming that a balaclava-clad man attacked the family in their home in the De Zalze Estate in Stellenbosch, and then escaped.

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