'Henri smoked 3 cigarettes while waiting for Marli to die' – court hears

2018-02-12 17:31
Triple murder-accused Henri van Breda back in the dock for closing arguments. (Aljoscha Kohlstock, News24)

Triple murder-accused Henri van Breda back in the dock for closing arguments. (Aljoscha Kohlstock, News24)

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Cape Town – Henri van Breda did not do anything to help his family after they were axed in their De Zalze home three years ago and instead of helping his younger sister, he "smoked three cigarettes while waiting for her to die," the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway argued on Monday that the attack was premeditated, pointing out that Van Breda would have had to arm himself before making his way to another floor of the house to execute the attack.

READ: This could be Henri’s last Christmas at home

Galloway in her closing arguments also criticised Van Breda's decision to take to the stand, saying the ultimate impression he left was a poor one.

She ripped into Van Breda's testimony, saying he spoke in a superior manner and tried to reason out his decision-making and demeanour.

There was no motive for someone, such as a hitman, to go to the Van Breda home and commit this crime, she argued.

The accused was unable to explain why their luxury home at the centre of the high security De Zalze Golf Estate was chosen; why the attackers went to so much trouble to access the house and not steal anything; left Henri – an eyewitness – virtually unharmed or attack him so differently to the rest of his family, Galloway said.

Wounds 'self-inflicted' 

He also could not expound on why he first phoned his girlfriend – a 16-year-old minor living at a school hostel – instead of emergency services.

State experts also found it likely that Van Breda's injuries were self-inflicted, Galloway pointed out.

Judge Siraj Desai asked what inferences could be made from this, and Galloway argued that it meant the totality of Van Breda's version could not be true if he willingly injured himself.

"The version of an intruder loses all credibility," she said.

ALSO READ: Unlikely Van Breda concocted story – expert

Circumstantial evidence pointed to Van Breda being the attacker and that his injuries were self-inflicted or inflicted by his family members during the attack, Galloway maintained.

His lack of emotion and demeanour following the attack initially gave emergency call centre operator Janine Philander the impression that it was a prank, she said, and was not consistent with someone who was a victim of crime.

She also asked why Van Breda did not mention that his brother – who had sustained the most severe injuries – had been making gurgling sounds and may still have been alive when he phoned for help.

Galloway also questioned why two of Van Breda's experts did not take to the stand to counter the State experts' testimony. 

Defence experts 'not objective'

The defence did not call on the expert evidence of a private forensic pathologist, Reggie Perumal, or ballistics expert Cobus Steyl, despite both attending trial proceedings.

She said those who were called were not objective and were merely trying to test the State's case by "raising possibilities", saying this does not comply with the duties of expert witnesses.

She made specific reference to DNA forensic expert Dr Antonel Olckers, who did not re-test DNA samples as she said it was not part of her mandate.

Galloway argued that the expert opinion on Van Breda's epilepsy was based on a backdated diagnosis and should be considered with caution as it may be incorrect.

Van Breda, 23, pleaded not guilty to axing his parents and brother to death, seriously injuring his sister Marli, and defeating the ends of justice.

He alleged that an intruder, wearing a balaclava, gloves and dark clothing, was behind the attack, and that he had heard other voices, of people speaking Afrikaans, in the family's Stellenbosch home in January 2015.

Van Breda claimed that, after a fight with the axe-wielding intruder who was also armed with a knife, the man had escaped.

The defence's Advocate Pieter Botha is expected to present his closing arguments on Tuesday.

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

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