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The Van Breda murder trial
The trial continues on Monday, 16 October, Desai is eager to get the case moving.
Antonel Olckers will be testifying on Monday. She obtained her PhD in Molecular Human Genetics from the University of Pretoria with research being done at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore, USA.

Today was a terribly long day in court, Desai was on a roll with his sass. Dr Antonel Olckers testified.

She founded DNAbiotec in 2001 and has served as its CEO since then. The cross examination continued and Desai had to keep asking for clarity in Dr Olckers' answers. She redrafted her testimony after Lieutenant Colonel Otto had already testified. When asked by Advocate Galloway about her report, she admitted that her findings were a "summary", as resources had dwindled and the scope narrowed. "I reported on what I was given time to look."

She had four weeks in total to write a report. Desai asked if she had prepared a scientific report. He asked why she did not prepare an independent report, "before your mind is clouded". The defence objected to this but Desai rejected it.

Olckers said that most of her positions have been academic in nature. Galloway said/asked, "The closest practical lab work that you did was listed in 1985?"

Olckers has very little experience in lab work. She trains other academics and scientists. She says the training is laboratory based.

Advocate Galloway did a fine job undermining Olckers' experience. Advocate Galloway said that DNAbiotec is then a consulting/training company, not a lab. To which Olckers said the training is lab based and hands-on. Olckers conceded that their company is not a diagnostics laboratory.

Olckers does analysis and interpretation of results that come from the lab. She defended her view that she has made a contribution to publications in human genetics.

Desai asks why Olckers has her work with students on her CV, what is the relevance? She said that when applying for grants it is sometimes necessary.

According to Olckers she was called by the defence and "paid" for her services. She didn't want to use the word hired. To which Desai said, "There's nothing sinister about that."

When Galloway asked whether Olckers has done a proficiency test, she does not give a straightforward answer. Desai intervened and said, "So, the simple answer is you have not done a proficiency test?"
Olckers said she has never worked in a forensics lab. She has no statistician as part of her team, Desai rested his head on his hand.

Olckers was called to assess the validity of Lt Col Otto's reports. She was asked to verify whether the results generated, were according to standards.

Olckers said that no entity audits her work. But if there had been concern that she would have been reported to the Health Professions Council SA. But no one audits the research labs. It's work peer reviewed. Olckers has never examined the SA Police Service Act.

Dr Olckers could not explain why she ignored said act. Desai was exasperated at this saying how could she not be aware if she is an expert in the field?

Galloway was shooting shot after shot at Olckers and seemingly succeeded in undermining the defence's expert witness.

Galloway said that Olckers sat in court while Otto testified and passed notes to the court. Olckers said that that is correct.

Court adjourned briefly after lunch so the defence could speak with Henri as Henri wanted to make an instruction.

The defence wanted to put on record that Henri is concerned with Desai's demeanor and interaction with the witness. Judge Desai then asked if they are asking for his recusal? (which means being removed from his judicial authority in this case) Desai said he will make note of this and wants the case to continue.

Galloway said that Olckers is not accredited and has never done a proficiency test. Olckers conceded that she is not a blood spatter expert.

Olckers was then asked to explain DNA to the court. Once again giving extensive answers in which Galloway cut her short.

An interesting day to say the least. Court continues tomorrow.

(I do apologize for the late reply but this took a while to compile and I was away from the news)

I look forward to seeing how this will go.

Thanks for the update Carly!

Jeepers, note to self, never label oneself as an "expert" in anything coz clearly you need to know something about everything in order to pull that hat out of your rear-end.

Albeit, that ought to be common knowledge, amIrite?

Olckers continued being grilled by Galloway today (yesterday, late post).

Olckers said that DNA can easily be contaminated either inadvertently or maliciously. Not all the analysts would have to be involved.

Olckers also refused to sign the required confidentiality agreement from the Forensic Science Lab, claiming it's "too wide". Desai said that she could have taken the form to another commissioner of oaths and deleted the parts she did not want. However, this was not done. Olckers said that she will in the future draft her own.

She also said the agreement meant she could not get paid as it states information may not be used for personal benefit.

The court also heard that Olckers has been criticized in a previous case for not knowing Standard Operating Procedures. To which Olckers replied that that is why she now requests them. As they are necessary for her to verify the validity of scientific results.

The court resumes tomorrow (today) at 9.30am.

Apologies for the delay.

The fifth day for Dr Olckers on the stand and it seems neither Desai nor the public is much impressed with the defence's expert.

It is a constant struggle in court between Galloway and Olckers about the length of answers. Advocate Combrink objected to Galloway's agitation.

Olckers explained stothastic effects to the court in terms of DNA. (stothastic is described as "having a random probability distribution that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely")

Olckers said that if a DNA sample is too small the result would no longer hold true. Desai said, "Science is a practical art. If it leads to a result with some degree of certainty, should it be ignored? Is it an unrealistic standard?"

Olckers said there are foreign peaks in DNA samples. Desai asked what this was? Dr Olckers said she can't explain that. But these peaks were not mentioned in the State's reports.

Samples were collected from the two domestic workers and the first responders of the scene. Desai said that these samples can be introduced into evidence, it is not a problem at this stage.

The court is adjourned until tomorrow morning.

Day six for Olckers on the stand and thankfully her last.

Galloway asked Olckers if she can prove whether any contamination took place? To which Olckers would not reply yes or no but said that some samples were in the stothastic range. When Galloway asked whether she's saying Otto should have gone further with her quality checks, Olckers said that that is not what she is saying.

In summary what Olckers is saying is that the correct Standard Operating Procedures were not followed, deeming the samples scientifically invalid.

Galloway asked her why she did not analyze the samples herself? Olckers replied and said that that must be put to council. Analyzing the samples were not part of her mandate. Galloway said the samples are still available. So why not test it. (This is utterly bold from the State, I must say I feel proud)

Desai asked Olckers, "Have you ever worked in a forensic laboratory?"
"No, my lord."

Galloway threw it in quick succession that Olckers has no practical experience. Olckers tried to defend herself with her academic and administrative experience.

In a 2004 case the Judge said that it took Olckers 10 court days to say the culture of the lab could not be relied upon.

Combrink continued the cross examination. Asking whether her initial report has changed. Dr Olckers said some aspects were not included in her final report. All that changed is the adding of her response to Otto's testimony.

Olckers said that any peak reported is of relevance and must be explained in the final report. She said she can't prove or disprove cross contamination. "It's very difficult to say there was no low-level contamination"

Olckers only deemed 20 something samples as scientifically valid, which she then read to the court. Controversy arose as she said only 23 were valid but she did not read 23. She "didn't count" them.

Olckers was dismissed. The trial continues on Monday, the 23d.

Today was the first day for neurosurgeon, Dr Mick Du Trevou. He is semi retired, performs very little surgery but is also a senior lecturer.

Dr Du Trevou's report deals with Rudi's post mortem and Henri's plea explanation. (Rudi was found on the floor 1m from where he was attacked. According to previous statement he had still lived for hours after his attack.)

Dr Du Trevou said that he does not want to speculate on how long Rudi may have lived after the attack but it is possible that Rudi was capable of movement after the attack. The part that controls the motor functions of his brain were all still in tact.

Du Trevou said that passing out for the period Henri described is consistent with a mild head injury.

Advocate Galloway then cross examined.

Du Trevou said he made his statement based on the postmortem, J88 and Dr van Zyl's report. When Galloway asked if he would comment on the 2 hour and 40 minute post traumatic amnesia spell, he said it was a common occurrence.

Back to Rudi. Rudi's gurgling happened in the process of dying, Du Trevou's expert opinion is that the blow would have rendered him unconscious. He might have recovered some level of consciousness and been able to move. He may have been able to crawl but not stand. It is possible that he moved from his bed of his own accord.

Galloway asked what the possibilities were for loss of consciousness in Henri's case, medical conditions (which Henri does not have) drug use, medication, alcohol. But Henri tested clean so medication and drug use could not be reasons. Du Trevou agreed to this.

The defence objected to this questioning but Desai allowed the State to continue.

Du Trevou said vasovagal could also be an explanation unless he really did fall and bump his head.

Vasovagal syncope happens when you faint as a result of your body overreacting to certain triggers such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress.

Du Trevou viewed the pictures of injuries to Henri's head and deemed them to be mild to moderate for a brain injury. A brain injury is not always visible. It can happen without bruising.

Du Trevou said that it often happens that someone who is injured will appear normal. The length of time related to the extent of the seriousness of the injury is a controversial matter.

Galloway asked that if he was unconscious for 2 hours and 40 minutes that he would just recover by himself? Du Trevou said it is unlikely. He can't exclude malingering. The act of faking it.

Advocate Botha asked whether Du Trevou saw Henri's MRI Scan? Du Trevou said he had. Desai said that that is not entered into evidence. Du Trevou said the MRI was normal except for two minor congenital abnormalities, which Henri was born with.

It is possible for a person with a concussion to function normally. And thus he concluded his testimony.

The defence said that they have two witnesses for tomorrow.

The court is adjourned.

Annelize Taljaard was the first on the stand today for the defence. She was a former neighbor of the Van Breda's. She lived in 14 Goske Street. She was a state witness that was not called.

She rented number 14, staying with her 3 children. She said that her bedroom was towards the back of the house, close to number 12. She didn't know the van Breda's.

She and her three children were home the evening of the murders and heard nothing out of the ordinary. She woke up at 5am and left at 5.30am to swim at Paul Roos. She was back before 7am to get her children ready for school. After she dropped them at school she was in the kitchen and heard a commotion outside.

A friend came to ask her what was going on outside. Taljaard said she went to take a look and saw the ambulance and the police parked on Goske Street.

The other neighbor however, Stephanie Op't Hof, testified that she heard angry voices coming from the van Breda home for nearly two hours. And she lived opposite 12 Goske Street.

Taljaard reiterates she heard nothing and would have as sound travels in De Zalze.

Advocate Megan Blows then cross examined. She said that there is a double storey home between Taljaard's home and the van Breda home. Op't Hof's home is closer as it just across the street, there is no house in between.

According to cellphone records the murders took place before 4.24am, Taljaard agreed that she was asleep then. Taljaard didn't hear shouts for help, the attacker laughing or Teresa van Breda asking what was going on, as it is put in Henri's version.

Taljaard agreed that just because she could not hear it, Op't Hof did not. Taljaard said she was shocked as she is a light sleeper. She felt so safe in De Zalze that she left her children at home in the early hours of the morning to swim.

Taljaard was dismissed.

Charl Rabie was next on the stand. He is the owner of Energized Fencing. He is a former policemen and has been in the fencing business for 20 years.

Rabie worked at De Zalze about 12 years ago. His company did not install the fencing of the estate. He said that if the electricity goes off, there is a battery linked to the energizer. The reserve feeds the battery so that if the electricity fails the battery would run.

Thorburn in Parow could have contacted De Zalze if there was an issue with the fencing. If the voltage of the fence falls below a certain level the system is activated. It can be caused by cutting the wires or a wet branch.

26 January the voltage fell below threshold and the kiosk door was opened. The beam monitoring the kiosk door was also activated. Rabie could not say by what. Another kiosk door was opened, with a beam activated as well. There were four activations that night.

Rabie says a dip in power can't cause an activation. That is why the battery is there. Rabie said it could be wires connecting, an animal electronic issues on the system, vegetation or the fence being in poor condition.

Rabie said that it is possible to get through the electric fence if you had knowledge of electric fencing, or you will shock, however, it won't kill you.

Rabie said it is not impossible to jump over if you had a sort of stepping stone. It is also possible to dig underneath the fence.

Rabie said the live and earth wire must not connect for more than three seconds. Which leaves a gap for someone to enter.

Galloway then cross examined.

She pointed out that he didn't install or maintain the system. Rabie did not know the name of the system even. He based his findings on his knowledge of security systems.

Both security officers testified that all was in order. They did not receive alarms or reports from Parow office.

Rabie said you don't have to be an expert to get over electric fencing. It is the easiest option. Rabie agreed that if there were two people they would be more likely to be spotted even if it is easier to get in.

Rabie said the concept of a false alarm is not impossible. He said it's called a "nuisance alarm".

Court is adjourned until tomorrow.

Day 52 (if I'm not mistaken) Today Jaco Pietersen was on the stand. The fifth witness for the defence.

Advocate Galloway objected to him testifying, questioning his relevance to the case as his involvement at De Zalze ended in February 2014.

He worked at De Zalze for over a year as well as for Thorburn. He had previously worked for SAPS.

Advocate Botha asked him about the insufficient camera coverage at De Zalze, as only 35% of the fencing is under camera surveillance.

He said the fencing was a security concern because the fence was old and not quite as effective as modern fencing. The bridge at Kleine Zalze was also a concern as it allowed access to the public going to the restaurant and the guest house.

Pietersen said he often had to address the residents on lending access cards to friends, family and staff.

A picture was shown of guards sleeping in the security hut at De Zalze. Pietersen said there were about 5 incidents where people tried to get into the estate in his time there. He said it is possible to enter into De Zalze by getting underneath the fence. The anti dig is not everywhere. And you could possibly get over the contractor's gate as well.

Galloway then cross examined Pietersen. He explained the role of the security manager. Galloway asked him if he signed a confidentiality agreement when he was appointed. Pietersen said he signed "something", but he doesn't have a copy of it.

He left De Zalze because the post was privatized. When he left de Zalze, the security was not up to standard.

Galloway said the residents at de Zalze, however, testified to feeling safe. Pietersen said that perhaps the incidents were not communicated to them.

There are no cameras inside the estate. Only on the perimeter. Most incidents noted at De Zalze were theft or misplaced items.

And so Pietersen was dismissed. Advocate Botha asked for postponement until Monday as they have two witnesses they are considering.

The court is adjourned.

Wow day 52, INSANE!

I wonder how much this lawyer is getting paid daily, anyone have a clue?

Well advocate Pieter Botha can not have come cheap. Known for getting Shrien Dewani off for murder.

But it may come out after the trial. I read that Oscar's Barry Roux alone cost him nearly R32 000 a day in court.

I won't be surprised if Pieter Botha comes in at slightly less than that.

(10-27-2017, 10:00 AM)Carly1803 Wrote: Well advocate Pieter Botha can not have come cheap. Known for getting Shrien Dewani off for murder.

But it may come out after the trial. I read that Oscar's Barry Roux alone cost him nearly R32 000 a day in court.

I won't be surprised if Pieter Botha comes in at slightly less than that.

I'm clearly in the wrong profession Big Grin

At least I can sleep at night.

Day 53. The state heard this morning that Henri van Breda will be called to testify for the defence.

Advocate Botha appealed to Desai that Henri wishes to testify. However, that it not be broadcasted live, because of his speech impediment and demeanor, it may cause prejudice.

Desai debated with Advocate Botha about the potential prejudice as the cameras have not been intrusive or hampered the case in any way.

Advocate Botha said that he is concerned Henri's demeanor will impact his credibility negatively.

The court then adjourned for Desai to apply his mind to the matter until tomorrow morning at 10.

Wait so now Henri is allowed to testify?
Join the official JSE Discord Channel

I guess we will find out today

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