Crucial questions over Van Breda’s demeanour after murders

⁠⁠⁠Murder accused Henri van Breda at the Western Cape High Court
Picture: Esa Alexander

Henri van Breda had cuts on his forearm‚ facial bruises‚ back injuries and scraped knees when he was examined by a doctor on the morning his parents and brother were found murdered.

But general practitioner Dr Lizette Albertse told the Cape Town High Court yesterday: “I did not feel they were serious enough to take him to hospital.”

The National Prosecuting Authority said at the time of Van Breda’s arrest for the murders of his parents and brother that his wounds were self-inflicted‚ but Albertse said she was not willing to make a definitive comment on that.

Van Breda’s defence counsel‚ Piet Botha‚ held up a knife like the one found on the crime scene‚ and referred to Van Breda’s plea statement‚ in which he described a fight with the intruder he claims is responsible for the murders.

Botha demonstrated on himself‚ proposing that the intruder might have been slashing at Van Breda’s forearm as Van Breda held his wrist.

“Is that an impossible scenario?” Botha asked Albertse.

“I have not seen anything in my research which states that it is completely impossible‚ but I can say that it is highly improbable‚” she replied.

Her testimony came after Van Breda wept while listening to a recording of the call he made to emergency services on the morning of January 27 2015.

The subsequent heated debate in court rested on these questions: Was it a sob or a giggle he let out while on the phone?

And why was he so calm when his family had been axed to death?

Call centre operator Janine Philander testified that she was convinced Van Breda’s call was a prank because he was hesitant‚ cool as a cucumber‚ calmly gave details of the attack and set the tone early in the conversation with a giggle.

Botha argued that those were merely her interpretations‚ and claimed the “giggle” was a stuttered form of the word “please” in one instance‚ and a sob in the other.

Philander said: “Normally callers who phone in with this type of emergency set the tone.

“There was no interruption‚ no comeback‚ no getting agitated and he didn’t stop me at any time.”

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