Axe murder accused Henri van Breda showed emotion for the first time in court on Wednesday‚ appearing to be on the brink of tears.
The display happened as his uncle‚ Cornelius Andries (Andre) van Breda — twin brother of Henri’s father Martin — took the stand in the High Court in Cape Town as state witness number 93.
Andre said one of his fondest memories and “a very relaxing time” in his life was when he stayed with the family for a month when the children were “very young”.
He said: “They were a loving family. Martin sent Teresa [Henri’s mother] on a food course for fish. Martin and I were the test rabbits and I must tell you the food was divine.”
Henri’s face clouded over with emotion as he and his uncle made regular eye contact‚ remembering the experience together.
Speaking of his murdered brother‚ Andre said: “I cannot think of a single moment in our lives as brothers that there was an ugly moment.”
He said he had always been proud of the extended family‚ and that he had much respect for his late brother‚ an astute and honest businessman.
Andre spoke of how Teresa had pined for her family and South Africa when they lived in Australia for several years.
Henri’s advocate‚ Pieter Botha‚ asked Andre whether Henri entered the family home on De Zalze estate in Stellenbosch when his sister Marli went there to collect her belongings after forensic cleaning teams had finished their work.
He said Henri was with them in the kitchen and asked to take one of the whisky bottles in his father’s collection. Henri shook his head‚ and Botha suggested Henri did not enter the house during the visit.
The defence asked Judge Siraj Desai to adjourn the hearing so they could take instructions from Henri.
Earlier in the day, Henri’s face lit up when Andre made an appearance in court.
Andre hugged his nephew with a smile before the start of proceedings.
Although Andre is the family’s spokesman‚ he has declined to speak to the media.
When The Times recently called him for an interview‚ he said: “Both sides of the family have taken a decision not to speak to the press at all at this time and we do apologise for that. We will perhaps speak out once the trial has been concluded.”
“Sterkte‚” Andre told Henri.
Henri is accused of murdering his father Martin‚ mother Teresa and brother Rudi at their home in Stellenbosch in 2015. His sister Marli managed to survive.
Support for Henri has been thin on the ground. Apart from a few strangers who arrive to support him each day‚ he has not had any visible support through words or affection in the courtroom.
Teresa’s brother‚ Andre du Toit‚ has been in court watching from the public gallery every day.