Poignant testimony in Van Breda murder trial

AXE EVIDENCE: Precious Munyongani leaves the Western Cape High Court yesterday

The ex-girlfriend of axe-murder accused Henri van Breda spent the shortest time on the stand of any witness so far‚ but there were emotional scenes in the court as she teared up during her testimony.

Bianca van der Westhuizen could not hold back her tears as she spoke about the Van Breda family.

She was the person Henri had tried to contact on the night of the murders‚ but her phone had been on aeroplane mode, she said.

At the time of the murders‚ she was just starting to date Henri‚ now on trial for the 2015 murder of his father Martin‚ mother Teresa and brother Rudi.

He has also been charged with the attempted murder of his sister Marli.

Then a Grade 12 pupil at Somerset College‚ Van der Westhuizen had met him at a family braai.

On the day of the murders‚ the two had gone to the beach together after school but she had a water polo practice just after 5pm.

Van der Westhuizen said Henri admired Rudi‚ but was closest to Marli‚ who also attended Somerset College but whom she did not know as they were in different grades.

Her testimony lasted only five minutes‚ and she was not cross-examined by Van Breda’s defence counsel Matthys Combrink as, according to him, “there is nothing in her testimony that we dispute factually”.

Earlier, the family’s domestic worker, Precious Munyongani, took the stand. She provided details of the Monday in January 2015 when the three family members lost their lives.

Rudi lay under a blanket in the family lounge, Sasha the dog was walking around freely‚ and as usual she could see the list of numbers Teresa had shown her when she started working there “in case of any emergencies”.

“There was nothing strange about the way the family acted that day‚” she said‚ adding that Martin and Marli were not present. Sasha slept by Henri’s bed‚ she said. Causing a stir in the courtroom were the details she gave of an axe she always saw in the scullery when she went to get the ironing board. Munyongani confirmed that she had seen many axes in her life‚ and that the one shown to her from the crime scene had the same appearance as the one she had repeatedly seen behind the ironing board in the scullery.

When asked what it was used for‚ she said: “I do not know‚ because I never saw anybody using it.”

Combrink then introduced a line of questioning to throw doubt on whether it was the actual axe she had always seen.

He insisted that by her saying the axe from the scullery was “similar in appearance” to the one used to murder Martin‚ Teresa and Rudi‚ it did not mean it was the actual one.

However‚ Judge Siraj Desai objected to the way in which he was interpreting Munyongani’s words as spoken by her interpreter in court.

“You are entitled to cross-examine as you wish‚” Desai told Combrink‚ “but this is torturous. There has been no suggestion there was another axe.”

Munyongani’s testimony began with her description of how she was able to gain access to the De Zalze estate three times a week with an access card she had been provided with and using her thumb for biometric scanning.

At the family home‚ in Goske Street‚ she would open a small gate using a key hanging on a string‚ and enter through the back door.

Henri showed emotion for the first time in court yesterday‚ appearing to be on the brink of tears as Martin’s twin brother‚ Andre, painted a picture of a close-knit and “loving family” with no enemies to speak of. The case continues.

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