Cape Town - Five attempts were made to breach security measures at the De Zalze Estate, two years before the Van Breda murders, a previous security manager testified in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
Jaco Pietersen, who was employed prior to the appointment of current manager Marcia Rossouw, said that one attempt was assumed to be successful as an intruder cut a hole in the electric fencing.
The square, estimated to be about 500mm big, was only discovered two hours later, and the suspect was never spotted by the security cameras. The alarm, however, sounded twice before the discovery was made, he recalled, possibly when the person entered and exited.
Pietersen worked for Thorburn Security Solutions for a year until February 2014, when the post became a position filled by the estate.
He applied for this position but Rossouw was chosen to fill it.
Pietersen testified about another incident where a man was spotted at the perimeter fence by a security camera.
He was one of three people outside the estate and was armed with a panga, Pietersen recalled.
Video footage of the incident – which Pietersen recorded with his cellphone from a computer screen – was shown to the court.
Judge Siraj Desai, however, pointed out that he could not see the weapon.
Pietersen said the men had escaped when estate security responded.
On a separate occasion, Pietersen said two people were spotted on camera near the De Zalze fence facing Techno Park. When security personnel responded, the duo had scampered and hid in nearby vineyards. They were not caught.
There was also an instance where a man had gained access to the estate underneath a gate facing Spier. He fiddled with the camera monitoring this area and was caught.
Pietersen pointed out other security issues, and had photos of sleeping security guards and holes in the perimeter fencing.
Earlier in the trial, Rossouw testified that the perimeter had not been breached the night of the murders.
She said four alarm activations at De Zalze the night of the murders were due to low power.
She conceded that entry was possible if someone activated the fence with a branch and entered the estate over the already activated fence, but argued that its wide camera network would have picked this up.
Security ‘not up to standard’
Prosecutor Susan Galloway said 190 incidents were reported since the estate's establishment in 2003.
Since February 2014, when Rossouw was appointed, only 10 theft incidents were registered.
Pietersen said that when Rossouw took over from him, security was not up to standard.
Galloway countered that past residents who had testified said they felt safe in the community.
Pietersen responded that perhaps previous incidents had not been communicated.
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.
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 Monday.