Evidence: Rudi’s last moments
Trial query Did brother die in bed or did he drag himself to the bathroom clutching his duvet?
● Did Rudi van Breda bleed to death in his bed after being hacked with an axe? Or did he move off the bed towards the bathroom clutching a duvet before he died?
Both are ghastly to imagine‚ but the state and defence put forward very different scenarios of Rudi’s last moments.
Rudi was one of three family members killed with an axe at their luxury home in Stellenbosch in 2015. His brother Henri van Breda is charged with murdering his mother, father and him.
Earlier in the week blood-spatter expert Captain Marius Joubert said the position of the grey duvet and Rudi’s body‚ both found near the entrance to the bathroom‚ was inconsistent with details given in Van Breda’s plea statement. This raised the issue of whether Van Breda dragged his brother’s body off the bed towards the bathroom.
Advocate Piet Botha‚ for Van Breda‚ asked: “What benefit would my client have derived from only changing the position of one victim?” Joubert responded that perhaps “the person could have been angry at him and pushed him around”.
Botha said he was not saying something had been “staged” but that he believed it was another person who moved Rudi’s body.
Botha said: “The amount of blood‚ and blood flow on Rudi’s face showed a slightly raised position of his head — probably lying on a pillow — when he started bleeding. But we know that with reference to the bigger pool of blood on the floor‚ that he must have bled there for a period of time and quite profusely.” Botha argued he was alive during this time. Joubert disagreed: “If he was moving on his own [from the bed to the floor towards the bathroom] with his heart beating‚ why are there no other flow patterns that show he was at some stage very active on the crime scene?”
Botha hit back‚ saying that Joubert’s theory of Rudi’s dead body being dragged around would also show such flow patterns‚ yet there
“He must have bled there for a period of time and quite profusely”
PIET BOTHA Van Breda’s advocate
weren’t any. Joubert said the blood would have dried by then.
Botha insisted that Rudi could have been alive‚ and referenced his own expert‚ Dr Reggie Perumal‚ who informed Botha he “could have lived for another two hours after the attack”.
CROSS-EXAMINATION Henri van Breda’s counsel, Piet Botha, in action at the High Court in Cape Town