Outside the Van Breda's multi-million rand home

Defence lawyer Lorinda van Niekerk shows how one may get access to former Van Breda house. (Nick Pawson, News24)
Defence lawyer Lorinda van Niekerk shows how one may get access to former Van Breda house. (Nick Pawson, News24)

Stellenbosch - Curious neighbours stood outside and curtains moved as others watched through the windows when Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai led a convoy to the Van Breda family's former home in the De Zalze Estate in Stellenbosch on Tuesday.

An in loco inspection took place at 12 Goske Street, the scene of the murders of husband and wife Martin and Teresa and their oldest son, Rudi. Their daughter, Marli, sustained serious head injuries, but survived.

The family's middle child, Henri van Breda, 22, is on trial for the axe attack which took place at the luxury estate on January 27, 2015. 

He has pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder, to one of attempted murder and to one of obstruction of justice.

The estate's management and security initially refused to let journalists onto the property, but eventually allowed them to attend proceedings outside the house.

Defence advocate Pieter Botha asked lawyer Lorinda van Niekerk to demonstrate how easy it was to access the Van Breda house. She easily scaled a wall and gate. 

Henri, in his plea explanation read out in court on Monday, claimed an intruder in dark clothes, wearing gloves and a balaclava, hacked his parents to death that morning. 

He said he heard the intruder speaking Afrikaans and claimed that after a tussle with the axe-wielding man, he escaped.

Police said they found no sign of forced entry.

The Van Breda's former neighbour, former TV sports anchor Martin Locke, said he was up around 03:30 that morning and never heard anything suspicious.

"I was getting married that morning and battled to get out to get to the wedding on time. My then fiancée came running to me, and said there was a big thing going on outside and that I better go and have a look," he recalled.

Outside, he found two police officers, and a domestic worker sitting on the road.

"It was just a tragic day in the lives of everyone. This is the most beautiful estate in the world, the calmest. Nothing's ever happened. 

"We spent two years wondering why it's taken [police] so long, to find something. All we want is closure. I think everybody wants to know what happened, for the safety of themselves."

He described the Van Bredas as a "fantastic family", although he admitted he didn't know the two sons very well.

After being on the market for more than a year, the Van Breda property belonging to Merwood Consultants, owned by Martin, fetched R5.8m at the end of 2016, an estate agent previously told News24.

The four-bedroom house, described in a past listing as a "modern Cape Vernacular-style home" was purchased in the name of Merwood Consultants in 2014. The 865m² property has four bathrooms and a pool.

Priced at R4.6m at the time, it was later put on the market for R6.2m.

Shortly after the murders, the De Zalze Home Owners Association said in a statement that an investigation into the estate's security system found that the perimeter fence had not been breached. 

"De Zalze Estate was established in 2000 and in the 14 years of operation, no serious crime has been reported. The attack is therefore viewed as an unusual, isolated incident confined to the property in question."

According to its website, the estate has a golf course, winery, restaurant, and the Kleine Zalze and Winelands Golf Lodges.

Van Breda's trial continues on Wednesday.


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