With nary a care in the world

Triple-mur­der ac­cused Henri van Breda will stand trial on Mon­day for the axe killings of his par­ents and brother, and at­tempted mur­der of his sis­ter. Week­end Ar­gus looks at what life has been like for the 22-year-old since the mur­ders at their lux­ury Stel

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

and tells. One is Janse van Rens­burg. She’s ex­posed his lov­ing na­ture to the pub­lic, now fa­mil­iar with the va­cant stare he pro­vides for the cam­eras cov­er­ing his court ap­pear­ances.

When Van Breda is strolling at the sea­side with Janse van Rens­burg, he can’t help him­self; he’s smil­ing and clearly very much in love. And when she re­turns the com­pli­ment, you can see his draw­bridges come clang­ing down. Con­trast that with a few months be­fore he met her, when he was seen ar­riv­ing alone at the Ro­driguez con­cert at GrandWest and leav­ing alone.

Their re­la­tion­ship is in­trigu­ing. Janse van Rens­burg’s CV re­veals her as sporty and out­go­ing. Yet that all changed after meet­ing Van Breda at chef school.

Their guest house rou­tine is stock stan­dard for the cou­ple. They rise late and spend the day in each other’s pock­ets, says a re­li­able source, sel­dom so­cial­is­ing with friends or fam­ily, and rarely get­ting out much.

“They were pos­si­bly our most filthy, dis­gust­ing guests we’ve ever had,” said the Kom­metjie land­lord. “I don’t think they ever washed a thing in the room. It looked like they were eat­ing off dirty plates.

“Nor­mally, we’d send the house­keeper in to clean up but I couldn’t sub­ject her to that mess. I thought it was pos­si­ble they had been evicted from their pre­vi­ous place. We had to give the place a re­ally good spring clean after they left.

The Big Bay land­lord was as un­equiv­o­cal. “I’m so glad they were out of here. They were filthy pigs. The place was like a pig sty. It was filthy.

“Rub­bish that you and I would throw in a bin was all over the floor and there was left­over food all over the place.” Such is Janse van Rens­burg’s un­con­di­tional de­vo­tion that she dropped out of chef school with Van Breda, and doesn’t care what any­one thinks about that. As the fridge sticker on her Face­book page de­clares: “My life. My choices. My mis­takes. My les­sons. Not your busi­ness. Mind your own prob­lems be­fore you talk about mine. My life is not your story to tell.”

In the weeks ahead, it may be­come ap­par­ent in the High Court if Van Breda wears a mask – like the su­per­heroes which adorn the T-shirts and hood­ies he’s been seen wear­ing – and if it per­haps speaks to a shad­owy as­pect of self and an un­con­ven­tional re­la­tion­ship with his par­ents.

It some­times ap­pears that way when he’s in pub­lic.

In the first pho­to­graphs of Van Breda, taken a few months after he lost his fam­ily, he sat on Blaauw­berg Na­ture Re­serve’s Derdesteen beach watch­ing the sun set with his un­cle, a fe­male rel­a­tive and his puppy which, in be­tween chas­ing a ball, sat un­der his arm in a lov­ing em­brace. He seemed as if he didn’t have a care in the world. But that changed quickly as he left the beach, look­ing like a dead man walk­ing, rings un­der his eyes so dark they looked like make-up.

The last time Van Breda was seen walk­ing his puppy was five months later, again on Derdesteen. This time he was with his un­cle, aunt and a teenager with short, curly dark locks…

By now his sis­ter, Marli, was well on the road to re­cov­ery in the care of her un­cle and aunt and a cu­ra­tor ap­pointed by the court to han­dle Marli’s le­gal af­fairs and to as­sist the teenager and her fam­ily, teach­ers and ther­a­pists with ma­jor life de­ci­sions.

Al­though Marli was still suf­fer­ing from ret­ro­grade am­ne­sia, cu­ra­tor ad­vo­cate Louise Buik­man, SC, con­firmed her re­turn to school for the last term of 2015, con­tact with her peers and her brother, Henri.

Word was that Marli was al­ter­nat­ing be­tween liv­ing in Som­er­set West with her boyfriend’s fam­ily to be close to her school and with her un­cle, aunt and brother in Plat­tek­loof.

But de­spite this knowl­edge, it was in­ter­est­ing to wit­ness the sib­ling in­ter­ac­tion in the flesh. Not charged at that stage, but nev­er­the­less the prime sus­pect in the eyes of the cops, here was Van Breda, seven months after the grue­some slay­ing of his fam­ily and the mirac­u­lous sur­vival of his sis­ter, walk­ing along­side Marli with not a hint of ten­sion in their body lan­guage. Set against the wild pound­ing surf on a blind­ingly white beach, it was some­what sur­real.

There was a hint of poignancy too in this out­ing. Gone was Marli’s long blonde wig which had be­come her trade- mark when out in Som­er­set West. Here she was at her most vul­ner­a­ble – her short, newly grow­ing hair bear­ing stark tes­ti­mony to her hor­rific wounds which, the State says, were in­flicted by Henri.

This fa­mil­ial close­ness con­trasts starkly with the ru­mours of bad sib­ling blood since Henri was charged and Marli be­came a state wit­ness – events which ef­fec­tively ex­iled him from the fam­ily’s Som­er­set West villa, ap­par­ently rented with money from their mul­ti­mil­lion trust funds here and in Aus­tralia, which leave them not want­ing for much.

The ru­mour, re­ported as fact, was that sis­ter would take the stand against her brother. Those in the know say this will not hap­pen. She still suf­fers from ret­ro­grade am­ne­sia and, per­haps thank­fully, has no mem­ory of the night­mare on Goske Street.

An­other state wit­ness who won’t be able to tell us much, if her mother is to be be­lieved, is an aquain­tance of Marli, ref­er­enced twice in the in­dict­ment as Van Breda’s girl­friend.

Ex­cept she wasn’t his girl­friend, says her mother, claim­ing her daugh­ter had only been on a cou­ple of dates with Van Breda and barely knew him.

Cer­tainly not enough, she adds, to shed any light on the per­son­al­ity be­hind Van Breda’s numb stare which has be­come his trade­mark at his court ap­pear­ances. So pic­ture this: by Van Breda’s ac­count, a per­son or per­sons un­known gains en­try with­out any sign of a break-in and ram­page with an axe, slay­ing his el­der brother, his motherand fa­ther and wound­ing his younger sis­ter.

In­ex­pli­ca­bly, the neigh­bours hear no scream­ing.

Mirac­u­lously, Van Breda es­capes with only su­per­fi­cial wounds and a blow that only ren­ders him un­con­scious. He wakes to a slaugh­ter house scene.

But in­stead of run­ning scream­ing from this hell in the mid­dle of a for­ti­fied lux­ury sub­ur­bia pa­trolled night and day by se­cu­rity guards, Van Breda calls a high school girl – who is not re­ally his girl­friend – at 4.24am. And then, when she doesn’t an­swer, says her mother, he Googles emer­gency ser­vices num­bers.

And then, the state in­dict­ment con­tin­ues, when Van Breda fi­nally calls ser­vices three hours later, he dis­plays su­per­hu­man calm and tol­er­ance as the bum­bling am­bu­lance con­trol room op­er­a­tor spends three min­utes strug- gling to lo­cate his ad­dress and write it down cor­rectly.

“Do you get any Alle­mann Street? Be­cause if you send some­one there I can meet them in the road… ” Van Breda of­fers kindly, as if he’s ex­pect­ing a pizza de­liv­ery.

It al­most seems in­ci­den­tal to the con­ver­sa­tion when the op­er­a­tor fi­nally enquires: “What kind of in­juries is there?”

“Um, my fam­ily and me we were at­tacked by a guy with an axe.” “Un­con­scious hey?” “Yes, and bleed­ing from the head,” adds Van Breda, with a chuckle.

And then, al­most half an hour later, Henri calls his “girl­friend” again.

Pos­si­bly the only per­son who can make sense of this is Janse van Rens­burg.

She has spent more time alone with him than any ther­a­pist, cop or lawyer.

When they are to­gether, it’s ob­vi­ous he trusts her.

So by now Van Breda has shared how he woke to a night­mare and man­aged to stay so calm.

Why he took hours to call an am­bu­lance when Marli was slowly slip­ping away. What the at­tacker wanted that ne­ces­si­tated mass mur­der…

Be­cause th­ese are the an­swers a girl needs, right?

PIC­TURE: AYANDA NDAMANE

Triple-mur­der ac­cused Henri van Breda’s trial starts in the Cape High Court on Mon­day.

Henri van Breda with girl­friend Daniellé Janse van Rens­burg.

Henri van Breda walks his puppy on Derdesteen beach.

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