Van Breda can’t watch as video of family’s murder scene is played in court

Henri van Breda
Picture: Esa Alexander

Members of the public were asked to leave the gallery‚ accused Henri van Breda sat so he couldn’t see the TV‚ and some of the press members averted their eyes in sadness and horror.

Eerie but silent footage shot inside 12 Goske Street‚ at De Zalze in Stellenbosch‚ revealed the true horror of what happened on January 27‚ 2015‚ when three Van Breda family members were hacked to death and one was injured so badly it took massive surgery to save her life.

On Thursday morning in the High Court in Cape Town‚ prosecutor Susan Galloway asked for video of the crime scene — shot before the deceased had been removed — to be played.

This was because in cross-examination “the defence seemed to imply there was tampering with the scene before the photographs were taken”‚ she said.

She wanted it noted that the footage corresponded to the photographs.

Knowing the footage would be disturbing‚ Judge Siraj Desai asked everyone to leave the public gallery.

The video depicted the scene as the investigating offers experienced it on that fateful morning: At first‚ just the normal scene of a family home’s communal areas from the outside.

The camera shows a key in the small black gate outside‚ a plunge pool‚ pot plants and trellises‚ a washing line down an alleyway to the side of the house‚ the kitchen‚ a neat living room‚ the fridge‚ then the staircase.

It is here where the first sign of a crime becomes apparent: droplets of blood can be seen at the bottom of the stairs.

As the camera moves to the first floor‚ watchers in court saw drops of blood on the side of the steps‚ then the axe — its head and part of its handle smeared in blood — and red footprints.

Upstairs‚ the full horror: Blood covers the floor‚ then you see the image of mother Teresa van Breda’s feet hanging off the side of the staircase. Dressed in a spaghetti-string top and white underwear‚ she lies there lifeless.

The camera then moves into the bedroom where brothers Rudi and Henri once slept — the elder out from Australia on university vac‚ the other taking a gap year.

Rudi’s body lies on the floor in a pool of blood near the little blue bed where the family’s pet dog‚ Sasha‚ used to sleep.

Not far from him‚ with most of his body slumped across the mattress‚ is father Martin.

The most poignant details of the video‚ however‚ are not the signs of death but the signs of life: a bikini top hanging on the taps in the bath — presumably rinsed after a bout of surfing or swimming — reading glasses and a phone next to a bed‚ a fan still turning in the ceiling‚ and two sets of remote controls.

After this had been shown‚ the public gallery was opened up once again and Henri van Breda — accused of murdering his parents and brother and attempting to kill his younger sister‚ Marli — moved back to his place in the dock.

The case continues.