Henri van Breda says he does not recognise axe used to kill his parents, brother

2017-10-31 19:31
Henri van Breda details the night of the axe attacks. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Henri van Breda details the night of the axe attacks. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - Triple murder accused Henri van Breda said he did not recognise the axe used to bludgeon his parents and brother to death, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

During his first day in the witness box, the 22-year-old said he had never seen the axe around the family's De Zalze Estate house before.

READ: Henri van Breda’s first statement to police

This despite the family's domestic worker Precious Munyongani earlier testifying that the murder weapon looked like the axe stored on a shelf in the scullery from where she used to fetch the ironing board.

Van Breda, while giving his evidence-in-chief, said prior to seeing the axe, exhibit one, in court, he hadn't seen it before, but would not dispute that Munyongani had seen a similar one in their Stellenbosch house.

He also denied killing his parents and brother with an axe, attacking his sister Marli, and staging the scene to make it look as if he had thrown the weapon at a wall in the house.

"Did you have any reason to attack your family?" defence lawyer Advocate Pieter Botha asked.

Van Breda replied: "No, none whatsoever."

'I was too scared'

Earlier, he had given his version of events. This was slightly more detailed than his plea explanation, which he said was a summary.

He alleged that an intruder wearing a home-made balaclava and dark clothes was behind the attack, and that he had heard other voices of people speaking Afrikaans in their home on the day of the murders in January 2015.

ALSO READ: 'Laughing axe-attacker slowly came for me' - Van Breda's version of events

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

He also denied giggling during his call to emergency services, claiming he had said "please".

When asked if he had called for help, he conceded that he hadn't and that with hindsight he realised that he should have.

Botha asked him to explain why he hadn't come to his family's aid.

"I wish I could. I wish I did. But I was too scared."

He denied that there had been an argument in the Van Breda home after former neighbour Stephanie Op't Hof testified she had heard raised voices coming from the house between 22:00 and shortly after midnight on the morning of the axe attack.

Calm witness

When asked about the mixture blood sample found in his en-suite shower, he denied attempting to wash any blood off his body that morning, saying he sometimes shaved in the shower.

Van Breda appeared calm in the witness box as he gave his account of how his parents and brother were murdered, taking deep measured breaths with barely a hint of the stutter he was said to suffer from.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Susan Galloway asked why he, as a victim and/or witness to a serious and violent crime, didn't want to testify at first.

He said he had been following legal advice, but decided that he wanted to have his say.

Van Breda maintained that intruders had accessed his family's home, despite no evidence of this being found in alarm records or camera footage.

He also agreed that nothing appeared to be missing from the house.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.

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

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