Martin and Teresa van Breda with their daughter, Marli, 16, and sons, Henri, 20, left, and Rudi, 22, on a family holiday posted on Facebook.
Eleven objective facts sealed the fate of convicted murderer Henri van Breda.
Van Breda, 23, will spend his first night behind bars in Pollsmoor Prison’s hospital section, after he was found guilty of axing his mother, father and brother to death, attempting to kill his sister and defeating the ends of justice.
Judge Siraj Desai said in his judgment that, although “anything is possible in the realm of ordinary human experience”, eleven objective facts established that Van Breda was the man who brought down the axe on his family in the early hours of January 27, 2015.
– The family lived in a security estate and there was no evidence of any unlawful entry onto De Zalze at the time of the attack.
– While not impenetrable, a reasonably high degree of skill, knowledge of the layout and its security system as well as some expertise in planning was necessary to enter De Zalze.
– Fortuitous unlawful entry was “most unlikely”.
– No indication typical of a house robbery or burglary, showing any intruder/s being inside the house was evident.
– Four of the five Van Breda family members were found brutally attacked in a similar fashion and left (for) dead.
– The family members were all in very close proximity in the sleeping areas of the house.
– Van Breda was left standing and lived through the events.
– The accused sustained injuries supposedly inflicted by the same attacker in the same incident and in the execution of the same intent – yet markedly different in nature and extent to that of the rest of his relatives.
– The evidence conclusively shows that some, if not all of his wounds, were self-inflicted, with the State experts’ evidence standing uncontradicted despite the defence having had access to several experts of their own.
– Van Breda’s version of how the incident unfolded was inconsistent with the objective evidence found on the scene.
– He amended material aspects of his version when he became aware of the irreconcilability of his version with material aspects of the evidence.
Van Breda pleaded not guilty to axing his parents – Teresa and Martin – and brother Rudi to death, seriously injuring his sister, Marli, and defeating the ends of justice by tampering with the scene.
He alleged that an intruder, wearing a balaclava, gloves and dark clothing, was behind the attack, and that he had heard other voices of people speaking Afrikaans in 12 Goske Street.
Van Breda claimed that, after a fight with the axe-wielding intruder who also had a knife, the man had fled their home situated in the centre of the lavish estate.
The State disproved his version of events, basing their case on circumstantial evidence.
There was no direct evidence implicating Van Breda.
“Each piece of evidence on its own might not be enough to establish the guilt of the accused but the cumulative effect of all the pieces concludes the puzzle. Independent circumstances point to the same conclusion. This leads to only one reasonable inference,” Desai said in his 103-page summary judgment.
“The court finds that the accused had sufficient time to tamper with the scene and thus portray him to be a victim.”
After appearing to nod off at times as Desai went through the extensive details of the case which led to his verdict, Van Breda was stone’-faced when the judge found him guilty of all counts.
Prosecutor Susan Galloway objected to Van Breda being released on bail ahead of sentencing proceedings and a possible appeal.
Desai ruled that the interest of society dictated that he be detained.
He will be kept in the hospital section of the prison because he has epilepsy and depression.
While he entered the Western Cape High Court on Monday morning holding his girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg’s hand, the brunette briskly walked out that afternoon alone and in tears.
Sentencing proceedings are expected to commence on June 5.