Police action indicates Van Breda wasn't seen as a witness - defence

2017-05-31 17:11
Henri van Breda arrives at court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Henri van Breda arrives at court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town – The actions of police toward Henri Van Breda on the day of his parents and brother’s murders did not indicate that they saw him as a witness, the defence argued on Wednesday.

On a level of probabilities, Henri 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 Henri's family wasn’t 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.

Closing arguments in a trial-within-a-trial to decide the admissibility of Henri’s initial statement given to police shortly after the murders were heard in the Western Cape High Court.

Judge Siraj Desai is expected to give his decision on Thursday.

Botha essentially 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 to remain silent.

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.

Standard police practice

Henri, now 22, is on trial on charges of murdering his parents Martin, 54, Teresa, 55, and brother Rudi, 22, with an axe, 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 in the De Zalze Estate, Stellenbosch, in the early hours of January 27, 2015, before escaping.

Advocate Susan Galloway, for the State, argued that Henri had said nothing incriminating in his initial statement to police.

She further insisted that evidence confirmed that he had not been detained at the time and that he had been treated as a victim according to standard police practice.

"The accused never indicated he didn’t want to talk to police. He wasn’t put in a position where he had to give information," she said.

She further pointed out that the essence of the statement’s content was not disputed, as it is a record of what is already before the court.

"At the time of making it, there was no incriminating evidence against the accused," she said.

"The content does not amount to confession or admissions – it is a witness statement."

Van Breda never indicated that he was dissatisfied with the police's conduct, Galloway added.

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

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