Van Breda to give his version of murders
Will take to the stand and testify
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.