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Van Breda's last-ditch bid for freedom as he takes fight to the Constitutional Court

Murder accused Henri van Breda in the Western Cape High Court. File photo.
Murder accused Henri van Breda in the Western Cape High Court. File photo.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Family killer Henri van Breda has launched yet another bid for freedom.

Van Breda – who is serving a life sentence for killing his parents and brother with an axe in their upmarket De Zalze estate home in Stellenbosch in January 2015 – is putting his hope in the Constitutional Court, after he launched an application for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence on Friday.

In the application, Van Breda attempted to poke holes in the estate’s security.

Henri van Breda was found guilty on all counts against him. Here’s the moment Judge Desai found Henri van Breda guilty.

The application comes after his third attempt at freedom was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in May.

SCA judge president Mandisa Maya said in that ruling: “The application … is dismissed for the reason that no exceptional circumstances warranting reconsideration or variation of the decision refusing the application to appeal have been established.”

Van Breda was arrested 17 months after the incident and was charged with murder and defeating the ends of justice.

He was found guilty of killing his parents, Martin and Theresa, and his older brother Rudi, and for attempting to kill his sister, Marli, in May 2018.

The high court in Cape Town sentenced him to life imprisonment on each murder count and an additional 15 years, which were ordered to run concurrently.  

In his 335-page application to the Constitutional Court, Van Breda’s lawyer, Lorinda van Niekerk, said he was applying for leave to appeal against both his conviction and sentence. 

He said the high court had erred by convicting him, dismissing his version and finding that it was “highly unlikely” that intruders could have accessed the estate or that security was breached on the evening of the murders.

Van Breda said the court had also ignored evidence by two defence witnesses who testified about the functioning of the security system at the estate.

“The common cause fact that a mere 35% of a 7.5km long perimeter fence was covered by cameras, which cameras, in any event, only provided very limited and intermittent camera footage,” the court papers read.

“The evidence of the security manager ... and one of the security guards … of water and wild animals creating crawl spaces underneath the fence from time to time. The common cause fact that the security guards on duty that evening would only have known that the fence alarm had been triggered if they were informed by the [security] control room, located 35km from De Zalze.

"The common cause fact that there was 191 prior incidents of crimes that were reported to the police, of which less than 19% rendered identifiable suspects, without any explanation as to how any of the perpetrators gained access to the estate.”

Van Breda insisted during his trial that an unknown intruder had attacked his family and that he had fought the man off – and he also sustained bruises. He said the high court erred by finding that “no credible convincing evidence” supported his version.

“No cameras are installed in the interior of the estate, which consist of a golf course, a river, vineyards and patches of thick, bushy and tree-covered areas, which would have enabled intruders to move unnoticed from the perimeter of the estate…,” read the court documents.

“Entrance to the Van Breda property was very easy, from at least [two] points. Entrance into the Van Breda home would have been easy, as most, if not all, the downstairs windows, and the back door, were all standing open.”

Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the prosecution in the Western Cape, said: “We have until  June 14 2019 to file our opposing papers.”


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