Van Breda state­ments in­con­sis­tent

In de­tailed de­scrip­tion ac­cused doesn’t hear at­tack on mother and sis­ter out­side bed­room door

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE BEHR

WHEN mul­ti­ple axe mur­der ac­cused Henri van Breda was ques­tioned by po­lice on the day his fam­ily were mur­dered he told them they were look­ing for a lone at­tacker.

This is one of the in­con­sis­ten­cies that emerged when his first wit­ness state­ment is com­pared with his plea state­ment read out in court at the start of his trial.

The ad­mis­si­bil­ity of this first state­ment was the fo­cus of this week’s trial within a trial where the de­fence ar­gued that it could not be used as ev­i­dence against Van Breda as it was clear that he was a sus­pect from the be­gin­ning yet he had not been read his rights.

Ad­vo­cate Susan Gal­loway for the pros­e­cu­tion ar­gued that Van Breda was not a sus­pect but the only survivor of the hor­rific at­tack and thus the only per­son who could pro­vide the po­lice with any leads.

Judge Si­raj De­sai ruled in favour of the pros­e­cu­tion on Thurs­day. This was af­ter de­fence ad­vo­cate Pi­eter Botha failed to put his client in the wit­ness box to chal­lenge the in­ter­view­ing of­fi­cer’s ver­sion, a de­ci­sion that sur­prised De­sai.

The at­tacker, ac­cord­ing to Van Breda’s first state­ment was strong, well- built and 1.86m tall. It makes no men­tion of the race or lan­guage of the at­tacker who, the court sub­se­quently heard, was black and Afrikaans-speak­ing.

Van Breda’s first state­ment also has him drink­ing more than the wine men­tioned in his plea: a whiskey be­fore sup­per and a rum and coke while he watched Star Trek 2.

One of the no­table dif­fer­ences be­tween Van Breda’s ver­sions is that the first pro­vides a time­line of events start­ing with drinks at about 6.30pm that fate­ful Mon­day and sup­per be­tween about 7.15pm and 8pm.

The ac­cused told po­lice that he joined his younger sis­ter Marli, older brother Rudi and his dad Martin in front of the TV. Marli and his dad went to bed around 9pm and he and Rudi at 11pm.

In Van Breda’s plea state­ment he re­veals just he, Rudi and his dad watched Star Trek 2 and that after­wards they all went to bed at the same time.

Ear­lier in the trial, nextdoor neigh­bour Stephanie Op’t Hof tes­ti­fied she heard men ar­gu­ing so loudly it fright­ened her from 10pm un­til 12.10am when she went to bed. Dur­ing her cross ex­am­i­na­tion, the de­fence were adamant that what she heard was the Star Trek 2 sound­track.

In his de­tailed de­scrip­tion of the axe at­tack in his plea state­ment ( which ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence so far oc­curred be­tween 3am and 4.24am), Van Breda doesn’t hear the at­tack on his mother Teresa and Marli right out­side his bed­room door. But in his first state­ment he says: “I then can hear that this per­son was busy as­sault­ing my mother in the pas­sage.”

Van Breda’s sec­ond de­scrip­tion of how he fought and dis- armed the at­tacker is far more de­tailed.

In his first ac­count to po­lice, Van Breda doesn’t men­tion step­ping over his mother and sis­ter dy­ing in a pool of blood as he pur­sues the at­tacker. The first time he sees them is af­ter try­ing to call his girl­friend Bianca (who ear­lier claimed on the stand that she was just a friend), while googling emer­gency num­bers on his cell­phone as he was climb­ing the bloody stairs. Then he fainted. “I then woke up… and I can see that my mother was not mov­ing and my sis­ter was still mov­ing and… breath­ing. I then got hold of the emer­gency num­ber and then called the am­bu­lance but I waited for 20 min­utes on the phone in the kitchen. I then called BIANCA Again about 7.30 and then later again but it went again on voic­mail and I then whatssup her and then I got through to the emer­gency peo­ple and then they told me that they are go­ing to call the po­lice. I then opened front door went out­side for a bid and then I went in­side again and sit in the kitchen hav­ing some sigarettes while I waited for the emer­gency peo­ple and then they ar­rived and then I told them what hap­pened and then they treated my fam­ily in the house. I did not touch any body of my fam­ily in the house the time the per­son as­saulted my fam­ily with the axe.”

Ear­lier the court heard Van Breda signed the un­gram­mat­i­cal state­ment rid­dled with spell­ing er­rors typed by Sergeant Clin­ton Malan be­cause he was ex­hausted and in shock and wanted to get out of the sta­tion “as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Although his state­ment was not cor­rect in all as­pects, “I did not want to sit around cor­rect­ing the of­fi­cers and re­liv­ing the trauma of the night be­fore with an­other retelling of what had hap­pened.”

Van Breda’s trial con­tin­ues on Mon­day. He has pleaded not guilty, claim­ing a masked black man at­tacked him and his fam­ily in their Stel­len­bosch home on Jan­uary 27, 2015.

Henri van Breda

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