Not enough to prove another person in Van Breda home - State

2017-10-18 18:46
Henri van Breda. (Peter Abrahams/Die Son)

Henri van Breda. (Peter Abrahams/Die Son)

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Cape Town - There is not enough evidence to prove that foreign peaks found in DNA samples from the Van Breda murder scene could point to another person being in the luxury home at the time of the axings, the State argued on Wednesday.

Dr Antonel Olckers, the defence’s first witnesses, pointed out foreign peaks not present in any of the family members’ profiles were found in three samples and were not stated on in the SAPS forensic science laboratory report.

AS IT HAPPENED: Forensics brought into question in #VanBreda trial

Two were taken from a wooden bench and a duvet, and a third was fingernail scrapings of the father of murder accused Henri van Bredas.

A peak appears on a graph which shows the analysis of a DNA sample.

It could indicate a very low-level profile in which only one peak is visible, she said.

Neither she, nor the police’s forensics laboratory could state what it was, Olckers pointed out.

It was relevant because it could not be explained and could contribute to uncertainty of measurement, Olckers responded when Judge Siraj Desai asked about its effect.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway said the buccal samples obtained from two domestic workers and first responders could explain the foreign peaks.

She attempted to have the results of their samples entered into evidence, but the defence objected.

It was decided that, for it to be included, the State would have to reopen its case. 

Galloway opted to withdraw her request for it to be entered as evidence.

Earlier, the defence’s DNA expert said she had been provided with low quality sample reports.

She nevertheless used it to analyse the SAPS laboratory’s conclusions.

Galloway accused her of manipulating unclear data, but Olckers denied this.

She said the documents given to her was not of sufficient quality to check the height of other peaks noted, as she wasn’t provided with colour, high-resolution copies.

She reiterated that she had indicated that the data was unclear.

Olckers again pointed out that she considered 40 of the 151 samples sent to the defence to be invalid because they were not in the range of 1ng and 2.5ng, as required in standard operating procedures.

She was asked if no result would be found if a sample was too small.

Olckers responded that it would have stochastic effects, meaning the DNA result might no longer hold true.

Evidence of a female donor

However, she still used the samples to analyse SAPS chief forensic analyst Lieutenant Colonel Sharlene Otto’s results. She concluded, among others, that a sample collected from Henri van Breda’s en suite shower only contained the two brothers’ DNA. However, Otto also found evidence of a female donor.

Galloway said Olckers had made calculations with the data received. But the analyst countered that she had used affidavits to show the problems with the samples.

Van Breda, 22, 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 their home in the De Zalze Estate in Stellenbosch 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 trial continues on Thursday.

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

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