Henri van Breda’s reaction plausible - CyberShrink

2015-02-04 11:10

Cape Town - An axe attack on a prominent family in Stellenbosch sent shockwaves through the country.

Martin van Breda, 54, his wife Theresa, 55, and son Rudi, 22, were killed. Marli van Breda, 16, is in a stable condition in hospital after suffering a severe head trauma and severed jugular.

Henri van Breda, the 20-year-old son, was virtually unharmed. Days later an audio clip emerged in which Henri spoke to emergency services moments after the attack.

The Van Breda family (Facebook)

News24 spoke to Health24's CyberShrink, Professor Michael Simpson, about Henri's call.

"In such a situation of extreme trauma, [if] he had just narrowly escaped death and witnessed his family hacked to death by axe... he had certainly just been through a peculiarly horrible and frightening experience.  What could be 'normal' or possible reactions in such a situation lie within very wide boundaries," said CyberShrink.

CyberShrink highlighted the following on the recording:

- It's highly peculiar and improper that such a recording was released to the media, and presumably this is being investigated.  

What we hear seems to have been edited, and not the full version of whatever was said in the whole call.  Why this was edited needs to be known, and this could have greatly influenced what this represents.  

The operator sounds even more odd than him, taking it lightly, and in the excerpt she seems to be asking a leading question about them being unconscious, or is referring to an earlier part of the call we don't hear. We don't know what else she said, which may have very reasonably upset, frustrated or bothered him.

The boy's voice is clear and reasonably coherent, but not calm; his voice is very jerky, shaky, and staccato, far more than the transcripts of the call suggest,  showing clear signs of emotional strain.  

                                 Henri van Breda (Facebook)

On the 'giggle':

- There is an odd sound just after he refers to "bleeding from the head", which sounds like "he...he", which some reporters have described as a giggle, but there is no humour in it. And the tape is cut off exactly there, peculiarly.  

Earlier he stammered on some of his words, so this sound might also have been a stammer at the start of a word that was cut off from the version we heard.   

Normal reactions to what must have been whatever actually happened, a severe emotional shock, vary very widely.  Some people, victims or perpetrators, may lose emotional control, and scream, weep, or giggle; others remain relatively calm, trying to respond usefully and respond sensibly,  such as calling the police.

The family dog:
- A friend is quoted as describing him a little later as sobbing on her shoulder.  

It's odd that the family dog was apparently present, and unharmed, and nobody has reported hearing him bark, or said that he attacked anyone during the attack on the family.  This would be unusual if the attack was made by a stranger.

Especially with an oddly edited scrap of a recording like this, we should be cautious about making assumptions about its significance.

Police not naming victims:

- There are reports that last year he had a brain scan in Australia, and mentions of possible brain cysts not being found.  Apparently no follow-up tests were done after he returned to South Africa; but one wonders WHY the brain scan was done, or cysts suspected,  as one doesn't scan without reason, so there were presumably some relevant symptoms or concerns at that time.

It seems peculiar and clumsy that the police have been refusing to name the victims, although everybody knows them and their names and pictures have been on TV and papers internationally.  

What on earth do they think they are achieving by such irrational reactions? What gets done in the name of protecting a young victim or accused so often fails to protect them in any way, and can in fact become rather ridiculous.

Teresa and Martin Van Breda (Facebook)

Rudi van Breda (Facebook)                                    Marli van Breda (Facebook)

 - To read more about these gruesome murders, click here.

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

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