I have never collected so many crime scene samples - Van Breda investigator

2017-06-01 17:18
Henri van Breda is charged with multiple counts of murder. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Henri van Breda is charged with multiple counts of murder. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - An officer, who has collected evidence from thousands of crime scenes in his 24-year career, said he had never collected as many samples at any site as he did at the Van Breda home two years ago.

Crime scene investigator Warrant Officer Andre Hitchcock, testifying in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, said it had taken police three weeks to collect all the forensic evidence from 12 Goske Street, following the brutal axe attack at the De Zalze home on January 27, 2015.

He recalled that the house had been neat when he arrived, which was out of the ordinary.

"It wasn't similar to a scene of [any other] house or business robberies," he said.

In the study, for example, the cupboard doors and drawers stood open, but the contents weren’t scattered around.

He took videos, photos, and a 360-degree recording of the house, before collecting thee swabs.

He is expected to be cross-examined on Monday, when the trial resumes.

Henri van Breda, now 22, is on trial on charges of murdering his parents - Martin, 54, Teresa, 55 - and brother Rudi, 22, with an axe, and attempting to murder his younger sister Marli, and defeating the ends of justice.

He has pleaded not guilty, claiming a balaclava-clad man attacked the family in their home, before escaping.

Unanswered calls to girlfriend

Earlier on Thursday, Hawks investigator Cornelius Engelbrecht told the court that the first call Van Breda had made that morning was at 4:24 to his then-girlfriend Bianca van der Westhuizen, which went unanswered.

Three minutes later, he did a Google search.

Almost three hours later, he dialled 10777 at 07:12 – the wrong number for emergency services, which is 10177. Also at 07:12, he phoned 107 from the house’s landline.

At 7:20, he again tried to phone Van der Westhuizen. This call was also not answered.

Van Breda checked his location via Google Maps, at 07:36 and two minutes later he tried to phone Van der Westhuizen again.

According to Van Breda, his location showed as 10 Allerman Street.

But Engelbrecht said, when he downloaded the data from Van Breda’s phone, the address showed as Goske Street.

An incoming call was noted on the landline at 07:39, which Engelbrecht was unable to trace.

Van Breda again tried to call Van der Westhuizen at 07:44, which was followed by a text message to her at 07:45, reading: "Emergency please pick up the phone."

A minute later, he tried to call her again. This also went unanswered.

Two missed calls were made to Van Breda’s phone by Van der Westhuizen at 08:19 and 09:10.

Questioned as a witness

Meanwhile, Judge Siraj Desai admitted Henri’s statement, given to police on the day of the murders, into evidence, following a week-long trial-within-a-trial.

Advocate Pieter Botha argued that police had already seen his client as a suspect, meaning he was entitled to be warned that he did not have to make a statement, had the right to consult a lawyer, and had the right to remain silent.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, Botha said the actions of the police toward his client on the day of the murders did not indicate that they saw him as a witness.

On a level of probabilities, his advocate claimed, Van Breda was a suspect, as he was taken from the scene to the district surgeon wearing only his boxer shorts, before being driven to the detectives' offices for his version to be recorded, still only dressed in his underwear.

Botha said Van Der Westhuizen's family was not given access to him and his blood was later tested by a doctor to whom he was introduced as a suspect.

He pointed out it was not up to his client to prove he was a suspect at the time of his questioning, but it was up to the State to prove he was not.

Sergeant Clinton Malan, who took the statement on the day, said Van Breda was not informed of his rights as he was being questioned as a witness, not as a suspect.

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

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