One year later: we look back on the De Zalze axe murder

By Marelize Potgieter
27 January 2016

A year on, it's hard to believe that nobody's been arrested or even identified as a suspect. We look back at YOU's coverage of the attack that shocked the country.

It's one of the most gruesome crimes South Africa has ever seen -- and a year on,  it's hard to believe that nobody's been arrested or even identified as a suspect.

On 27 January 2015, Martin, Teresa and Rudi van Breda were found dead in their beautiful home in the De Zalze golf estate.

Martin and Teresa's youngest son, Henri (21), sustained only minor injuries in the furious attack and his sister, Marli (17), sustained brain injuries when her jugular was severed by the axe.

At the time, Henri told police a man attacked his family with an axe. It's said Marli can't remember what happened that night at all.

Police are keeping mum and all Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut will say on the matter is that the investigation continues.

We take a look back at YOU's coverage of the attack that shocked the country.

February 12

family tragedy

News of the tragic attack spread like wildfire. A family friend told YOU Henri was "unsure" about what happened that night, adding, "all he said was two or three men attacked them."

Click here to read the original story

5 March

finding clues

YOU spoke with the investigator Niel van Heerden and renowned forensic scientist David Klatzow about how they would go to investigate the murders. Niel explained the first thing he would do was try to lay out events in chronological order. “Who arrived on the scene first and

what did they see?" he asked. "Who called the police and what did they say? Which police officers were first on the scene? Which medical officers? What were their findings? What is their provisional finding on when the victims died?”

19 March

house where henri

Immediately after the attack on his family, Henri was taken in by his uncle and aunt André and Sonja du Toit, while his sister was recuperating in the hospital. Friends spoke of how Henri kept to himself so much that even those close to him battled to speak to him. When asked about the murders he apparently sounded confused and talks in riddles. “He talks about ‘the man’. There is always ‘the man’.”

26 March

1what next

Two months after the attack, Marli was was transferred from hospital to a rehabilitation centre. Henri van Breda was reportedly not allowed to visit his sister at the facility, where she was under 24-hour guard, a nurse told YOU. “If we came near her room we were summarily chased away. You’d swear they were looking after a celebrity. Or were they just afraid the axe murderer would come looking for her?”

16 April

YOU published exclusive photographs of Henri walking barefoot on a beach on a Sunday afternoon with his guardians and a niece in the Cape . According to a family friend, Henri had left his guardians Sonja and Andre du Toit's home about two weeks earlier because of the enormous media scrutiny. The 20-year-old had reportedly moved to a guest house about 2 km from his guardians' house. According to a source the owners of the guesthouse did not recognise him, and the young man told them his parents live in Australia and he was just visiting Cape Town. He apparently regularly bought red wine and whiskey and spent time drinking alone in his room.

18 June

House that was once a home

The Van Breda home on De Zalze Golf Estate in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, was on the market for R6,2 million, compared to the

R10 to R12 million other four-bedroom properties on the De Zalze estate sell for. The double-storey house would have been thoroughly cleansed after that horrific night – but here and there items belonging to the family who once lived here could still be seen.

6 August

murder unsolved

Six months after the murders, it is speculated that an inquest could follow.

27 August

no murderer

YOU spoke exclusively with Teresa van Breda 's sister Narita du Plessis about the moment she heard her sister, her brother-in-law and their eldest son were brutally killed. She said the family stands behind Henri and do not believe any stories about him. "He's a lovely child who could never do something like that. To this day the police haven't said Henri's regarded as a suspect-- he was always just considered as an eye-witness."

27 January 2016

Marli intends to study at Stellenbosch University this year, Narita told YOU. She now lives with family, but it's unclear if Henri also lives with them.

The National Prosecting Authority has not yet decided whether anyone will be prosecuted, spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told YOU earlier this month.

* Marli's carer has since indicated that no further photos of her may be published.

- Compiled by Joanie Bergh and Marelize Potgieter

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