Cape Town – One of the intruders who attacked and killed the Van Breda family laughed as he went for the father, murder-accused Henri van Breda told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
From what he could see, his father, Martin, tried to tackle the assailant, Van Breda said in his plea explanation which was read out in court.
“He lunged toward the attacker. He was hit once, fell, then hit him [Martin]. He was laughing as he attacked my dad,” Van Breda said.
The intruder, who Van Breda identified as a black man, was wearing dark clothes, gloves and a balaclava-type mask.
His parents, Martin, 54, and Teresa, 55, and his brother Rudi, 22, were axed to death in their home on the luxury De Zalze golf estate in Stellenbosch in the early hours of January 27, 2015. His sister Marli sustained a serious head injury, but survived.
Earlier on Monday, Van Breda pleaded not guilty to killing his parents and Rudi, to the attempted murder of Marli, and to a count of defeating the ends of justice.
The evening before the attack, Van Breda told the court the nothing out of the ordinary had happened in the home.
“Dad opened a bottle of wine. We watched TV. Mom made dinner. Marli was in her room. The family watched Star Trek 2. We all slept with bedroom doors open,” Van Breda said.
At some point long after he had gone to bed, Van Breda said he got up to go to the toilet and took his phone with him, to play games.
“I heard banging sounds, so I stood up and pulled up my pants and moved to bathroom door.”
He said the sounds came from his brother Rudi’s bedroom. From where he was, he could see someone on Rudi’s bed, attacking him with what he later realised was an axe.
“I shouted for help, to attract attention. Bedroom lights switched on, dad came into room. The attack on Rudi was still going on,” Van Breda said.
This was when the intruder lunged at Martin, Van Breda claimed.
When Teresa emerged from her bedroom and asked “Wat gaan hier aan?” the intruder left Rudi's room. Van Breda said he could not see his mother being attacked.
He made his way to his brother’s room and the intruder entered soon after. During a scuffle with the intruder, Van Breda claimed he managed to take the axe from him. The man also had a knife, Van Breda said.
He managed to hit attacker with the axe, but realised he was holding it the wrong way round. He sustained cuts to his chest and arm while trying to defend himself.
As Van Breda was chasing after him, he saw Teresa and Marli's bodies. He heard angry voices in the house, which sounded like Afrikaans. He said he believed there were at least two attackers.
During the chase, Van Breda said he threw the axe at the attacker, but fell down the stairs in the process.
He reached for his phone, which was in his pocket, and tried to call for help, but did not have numbers for emergency services. His girlfriend did not answer when he called her.
While making his way upstairs, he Googled emergency services. On his way up, he saw Rudi and Marli moving. Teresa was not moving.
He later woke up lying on the stairs. He was not sure how long he had been there for.
“My phone was lying on bottom part of stairs. I picked it up, phoned emergency number on the phone. I don’t know how many times tried calling. Records show twice. Both unsuccessfully. Then I took a landline. I tried to remain calm as I called and got through to operator.”
He left the house using the cordless landline phone to give directions to the operator on the line.
“When the first officers arrived, I met them and told them to go upstairs. I could feel myself going into shock.”