South Africa

Henri van Breda: Stained with his family’s blood

Eighteen months after the murder of his parents and brother – they were axed to death – the National Prosecuting Authority has revealed in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court some of the macabre details.

The 21-year-old was in court for a bail hearing.

NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told the court that the DNA in the blood on Van Breda’s clothing was that of the victims.

“It is for that reason that we charged him with the murders.”

Van Breda was granted R100,000 bail.

He is accused of the murder of his millionaire father, Martin, of his mother, Teresa, and of his brother Rudi.

He has also been charged with the attempted murder of his sister, Marli, and with attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

The killings were at the family’s lavish De Zalze estate in Stellenbosch on January 26.

Van Breda handed himself over to the police on Monday afternoon. T he police had told his lawyer, said Ntabazalila, of his imminent arrest, and it was agreed that Van Breda would report to the police station instead of waiting to be arrested.

According to the indictment, “an axe and kitchen knife [both from the Van Breda family home] were recovered from the scene”.

But forensic scientist David Klatzow told The Times stronger evidence was needed.

“I don’t think that in itself [the DNA matching] is damning evidence. It is not surprising to find the blood of three dead family members on the clothes of another family member.

“The real evidence would be the “blood spatter” – and whether it is a “fine mist”, “big gushes of blood” or something else.

“That is what is really going to draw this story in forensic terms,” said Klatzow.

Police competency has been questioned after more than a year passed without an arrest.

The case will go to the Cape Town High Court in September.

“There is no reason to keep [the case in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court] because the investigation is almost done. We can just move it to the high court where it is ready for trial, instead of delaying,” Ntabazalila told the court.

Attorney William Booth told The Times that the immediate move to the high court showed that the investigation was complete.

There have been allegations of theft of key documents from the Stellenbosch Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, which dealt with the investigation, and criticism of the time it has taken for an arrest to be made.

“I want to know if there is any truth in [reports that documents were stolen from the police],” Klatzow said.

He said he had been “very alarmed” that the case had repeatedly been “referred back to the NPA for decisions” by the police.

He said that whoever was first responsible for gathering evidence “did it inadequately, so the prosecutor sent [the police dockets] back”.

Booth said that though forensic processes were often lengthy, in this instance they had been “unusually long”. In other cases, suspects had been held on the spot because they had the blood of the deceased on their clothes or body.

“That is grounds for reasonable suspicion for an arrest. I can’t say if he received preferential treatment, but many others have not enjoyed such a long break between the crime and it coming to court.”

The indictment revealed that on the evening of January 26 raised voices were heard coming from the family’s home.

At 4.24am the next day Henri phoned his girlfriend, who did not answer.

“At approximately 4.27am [Henri van Breda] did an internet search on Google, looking for emergency numbers,” the document read.

It revealed that he had what were described as superficial self-inflicted wounds, which included knife wounds.

“[Henri van Breda] tampered with the crime scene, inflicted injuries to his person and supplied false information to the police in order to mislead the police as to the true identity of the perpetrator.”

The case will go to the Cape Town High Court on September 9.