The Herald (South Africa)

Case against Henri van Breda poor, lawyer says

- Tanya Farber

“IT would require the expertise of a character from [American heist film] Oceans 11 to get onto the estate.”

This is how Judge Siraj Desai described De Zalze in Stellenbos­ch‚ a gated community where Teresa and Martin van Breda and their son Rudi were murdered with an axe in January 2015‚ and their daughter Marli was left fighting for her life.

The surviving child‚ Henri van Breda‚ 23‚ is on trial for the murders and his defence began presenting its closing arguments in the Cape Town High Court yesterday.

Advocate Piet Botha said the state’s case was of such poor quality that it could not be relied on and argued that someone could have dug under the electric fence to gain access to the estate.

When Desai responded this was not a reasonable argument‚ Botha became so excitable that Desai told him to calm down‚ saying: “The volume doesn’t increase the efficacy of your argument.”

Botha joked that he had been made aware earlier in the trial of his booming voice and had tried to curb it‚ blaming the lapse on his passion for the case.

A main thrust of Botha’s argument was that the only witness to the attacks was neighbour Stephani Opt’hof‚ who testified she had heard male voices arguing violently at the Van Breda home on the evening of the murders.

Botha claimed she was a biased witness who had been adamant that she had heard males arguing unabated for two hours‚ but that in the time between the murders and the trial she had been swayed by social media.

Botha said Opt’hof told police on the morning of the murders that she had heard males arguing‚ but it was only on the witness stand that she said it had gone on for two hours.

Desai asked: “Why would a neighbour that you don’t even know have a vested interest in being biased and testifying against you in a murder trial?”

Botha asked if it had been so disturbing‚ why had she not called security.

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