Van Breda to give his ver­sion of mur­ders

Will take to the stand and tes­tify

Saturday Star - - NEWS - MIKE BEHR

AF­TER months of sear­ing pros­e­cu­tion against him, Henri van Breda will take the stand and tes­tify in his own de­fence. When the Western Cape High Court re­sumes for its third term in Oc­to­ber, the pub­lic may hear his ver­sion of the night his par­ents and brother were mur­dered.

Sea­soned de­fence ad­vo­cate Pi­eter Botha has hinted at this sev­eral times dur­ing his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, but Van Breda’s up­com­ing ap­pear­ance in the wit­ness box was con­firmed this week by a source on his de­fence team.

The State is ex­pected to close its case on Mon­day af­ter Botha com­pletes his cross-ex­am­i­na­tion of their vet­eran blood spat­ter ex­pert, Cap­tain Mar­ius Jou­bert who has not blinked once un­der de­fence fire.

Once the State wraps up, Botha will have to play his hand, which is most likely go­ing be a re­quest to the court that he only call Van Breda at the start of the new term on Oc­to­ber 9 and not next week.

“Nor mally the ac­cused tes­ti­fies first,” ex­plained an in­formed source.

“This pre­vents him amend­ing his ver­sion of events once his ex­perts have tes­ti­fied. But the de­fence can re­quest that Henri doesn’t tes­tify first so long as they pro­vide Judge (Si­raj) De­sai with com­pelling rea­sons for the change of or­der.”

Botha will prob­a­bly choose this route as the sec­ond term ends next Thurs­day and he would not want a two-week in­ter­rup­tion of his client’s cru­cial tes­ti­mony. Van Breda’s tes­ti­mony and cross-ex­am­i­na­tion is ex­pected last at least five days.

The pos­si­bil­ity of Van Breda not tak­ing the stand is re­mote. “If Botha doesn’t call him then he has big­ger prob­lems than he will have if he does put him on the stand,” said a sea­soned ad­vo­cate who did not want to be named.

“That’s the beauty of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence – the guilt of the ac­cused does not have to be the only in­fer­ence. It just has to be the only rea­son­able in­fer­ence. If Henri does not give a rea­son­ably pos­si­bly true al­ter­na­tive ex­pla­na­tion for the in­crim­i­nat­ing cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence then the court must ac­cept the State’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that has been pre­sented as the only rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion. So Van Breda has to tes­tify to pro­vide some sort of equally com­pelling ex­pla­na­tion.”

The ac­cused has al­ready pro­vided a ver­sion in his plea state­ment pre­sented at the start of his High Court trial. “But it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber,” said the source, “that his state­ment has not been tested un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion. So at this stage it’s sim­ply a ver­sion of events. It was not made un­der oath so the court can’t take that ver­sion into ac­count in his favour un­til he tes­ti­fies un­der oath and the State has tested him on his ver­sion.”

Botha could call ex­perts to counter the State’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, which in­cludes some very in­crim­i­nat­ing tes­ti­mony by State ex­perts.

But the prob­lem for the de­fence is the court doesn’t have to ac­cept their ver­sions or opin­ions.

“Ex­pert opin­ion is only pro­vided to as­sist the court in mak­ing de­ci­sions.

“Which is why it’s a no-brainer. Henri has to tes­tify if he stands a chance of ac­quit­tal.”

Ad­di­tional chal­lenges for the de­fence in the days ahead will be to counter Jou­bert’s tes­ti­mony that the blood splat­ter on Van Breda’s sleep shorts placed him in close prox­im­ity to his brother, fa­ther and mother when they were axed and not, as he claims in his plea state­ment, stand­ing frozen at the door­way of the brother’s en-suite bath­room sev­eral me­tres away wit­ness­ing the fren­zied at­tack.

On the stand, Van Breda will have to ex­plain how Jou­bert did not find any blood spat­ter on his naked torso, arms or legs, con­sis­tent with the blood spat­ter found on his socks.

Po­lice cap­tain Mar­ius Jou­bert read out his sec­ond re­port in the Henri van Breda trial at the Western Cape High Court on Tues­day. His re­port is based on his anal­y­sis of the blood pat­terns.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.