Sunday Tribune

Marli van Breda’s ex gives evidence


MORE details have emerged about the state of the crime scene after the axe killings that claimed the lives of the Van Breda family – Martin, 54, Teresa, 55, and Rudi, 22 – at their home on the luxury De Zalze Estate in Stellenbos­ch in 2015.

Marli van Breda, who was 16 years old at the time, survived the attack, but suffered a severe brain injury and now has retrograde amnesia and cannot recall what happened.

Her brother, Henri van Breda, 22, is on trial facing three counts of murder, one of attempted murder and one of defeating the ends of justice.

On Thursday, police captain Nicholas Steyn told the court he arrived on the scene when forensic investigat­ors were already there.

He testified that it did not appear to be one of a house robbery where items were usually thrown out of cupboards and the house “deurmekaar” (all over the place).

He said he searched for signs of forced entry, but found none. Cellphones, laptops and small items had not been taken.

The house, which is in the middle of the estate, also had no signs of blood on the wall. Steyn said if someone had jumped over the wall there would have been blood, there were also no shoe prints.

Steyn told the court he spoke to Henri in the ambulance. He appeared “quiet and calm” and was able to give his version of events.

According to Steyn, Henri told him that he had heard sounds while he was in the toilet, and had then seen his brother being attacked. He shouted and his father came and was also attacked. His sister and mother came running into the room and they, too, were attacked.

Henri told Steyn he confronted the attacker and was stabbed in the side.

The suspect ran from the room and Henri threw the axe at him, but it missed and hit the wall.

He told the police captain that the suspect escaped out the back door and when he returned upstairs and saw his mother and sister he fainted. When he woke up, he said he Googled emergency numbers.

Steyn told the court there had never been murders at De Zalze Estate before that night. A balaclava gang that broke into homes had been operating in the area, but Steyn said the last member of the gang had been arrested in 2014.

Cross-examined by defence advocate Pieter Botha, Steyn conceded that although there were no signs of an intruder escaping, it was a possibilit­y that someone may have gained access from the outside.

Botha also told the court there was no blood on Henri’s socks and Steyn agreed, but said there was blood on his boxer shorts.

Earlier on Thursday, Marli’s former boyfriend, who she was in a relationsh­ip with at the time, took the stand.

James Reade-jahn described the family dynamics as “normal”, but said occasional­ly they had arguments.

He recalled an argument the family had that Marli had told him about on January 10, 2015. She had apparently been criticised about her weight gain, a subject she was very sensitive about, he said.

The family had also wanted Marli to scale back her relationsh­ip with Reade-jahn as they felt it was interferin­g with her school work.

Reade-jahn said Marli had been very upset after the argument, and had told him her mother had been too.

He then wrote Marli a message he later described as a “mistake”. It read: “Right now I feel like I want to murder the people that are around you at the moment … But I am being strong to help you and support you babe xxxx Pls I can call you whenever you need me. Don’t let me sit in the dark like this babe”.

Reade-jahn’s phone was confiscate­d by police two days after the murders, and his Whatsapp messages downloaded. He told the court he assumed it was to rule him out as a suspect.

As the trial entered its 10th day on Thursday, a picture of the family as a loving and close-knit emerged.

Earlier in the week, Martin van Breda’s brother, Cornelius van Breda, told the court that his brother was a good and honest man who didn’t have any enemies.

He said the family had never had fights and he could not remember a single incident when he and his brother had been cross with each other.

Domestic worker Precious Munyongani, who had worked for the family 3 days a week for 4 months prior to the murders, also testified.

She said the axe shown to her in photos looked exactly like the one that was kept on the shelf in the scullery.

Munyongani, speaking through an interprete­r, testified that she told police a set of knives that looked the same as the one used in the attacks “was kept in the drawer where the spoons were also kept”.

The court also heard details of the gruesome crime scene when paramedics first arrived.

Christiaan Koegelenbe­rg told the Western Cape High Court that “blood ran like a waterfall down the stairs”.

He had arrived at the De Zalze Estate after receiving a call about “serious assault” at 7.40am on January 27, 2015.

This was several hours after the murders were believed to have been committed.

The State is expected to lead forensic and medical evidence next week. – ANA

 ??  ?? Henri van Breda... on trial for the murder of his family. Right: the axe and knife used in the attack. NOKUTHULA NTULI
Henri van Breda... on trial for the murder of his family. Right: the axe and knife used in the attack. NOKUTHULA NTULI
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