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The Van Breda murder trial

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Day 10 of the trial dawned today, and it seems we are getting to the good stuff. At least more interesting than security.


First on the stand is James Reade-Jahn.


James is Marli's ex-boyfriend. They were dating at the time of the murders. James' family and the Van Breda's were family friends. James often visited their home and went on vacation with them. He describes them as a normal family, they had arguments now and again but so it is with family. 


He said Marli had good relationships with her brothers. She looked up to them. He also says Martin and Teresa had a good relationship with each other. They loved their children and were very family orientated. 


James last saw Marli on the 26th at school and chatted on WhatsApp that evening. He texted her good morning but there was no reply. He expected to see her at school but when she was not there he phoned other family and when that also went unanswered he got concerned and asked his mother (who works in Stellenbosch) to go over and see if things were alright. His mother came to his school to tell him what had happened. 


Because the Reade-Jahn's went there so often they had one of the Van Breda's access cards. 


James also recognizes the paper on the fridge with the emergency numbers were anything to happen. 


He is shown pictures of the axe, cigarettes, phone and a lighter.

He recognizes the axe as one that Martin bought in early 2014. He saw it a few times after that in the garage. He is not certain whether the top of the axe was black or dark green. He never saw anyone use it. 

He also recognized the cigarettes. He said that Henri smokes Camels. He has never seen him smoke in front of family members. 


James' phone was confiscated during the investigation, he assumed to download conversations with the family members.


The police asked him to explain messages he had sent 10 and 11 January, in a conversation between Marli and him. 


According to the messages, the family had had a loud argument at the dinner table. Marli was upset by her father, her mother was upset as well. Marli was present when they had a fight, the aftermath of a family argument. 


He saw them the next day and everything seemed fine. Advocate Combrink said that the argument was quite heated as Martin was discussing that Marli is overweight and how sensitive she is about it. James said that that seems like the only possibility, although Teresa was also upset he can only think that another issue must have cropped up. 


In a text message to Marli, he said "I know I told you I would tell you everything - right now I feel I want to murder the people around you. But I am being strong to help you." Marli's parents were apparently worried that their relationship was too serious and that they had to focus on their exams which will be used for university acceptance. 


Nicholas Steyn is next on the stand. A police captain with 28 years experience. 


He arrived on the scene when forensics were already there. The scene he found was not one of robbery. As most things were in place. He said he found it strange that all the valuables were still there. He could find no evidence of forced entry. He said that if there was a perpetrator they would have blood on their hands and left blood if he jumped over the wall or a shoeprint but there was none. 


Captain Steyn spoke to Henri in the ambulance and let him tell his story. Steyn didn't question him. Henri told him that in the early hours of the morning he went to the bathroom and then heard noises (kap geluide) he looked looked out the door and saw someone attacking his brother. He said that he (Henri) had shouted and his father came into the room. The attacker then attacked his dad too and thereafter his mother and sister came in respectively and the attacker went after them too. Henri then confronted the assailant. 


He said that he took the axe from the person and the person proceeded to attack him with a knife, he was stabbed in the side and the person fled. Henri went after and threw the axe at him but missed and hit the wall instead. The assailant fled out the back door. He said he returned and saw his mother and sister and fainted on the stairs. 


When he gained consciousness again he googled the emergency number for the police.


Steyn said he took the swabs for DNA from the domestic workers, he also handled Martin Van Breda's wallet, which was later returned to Lorinda van Niekerk.


Advocate Botha then questioned Steyn about the balaclava gang that was operating in the vicinity. Steyn said that the last of that gang was arrested in 2014. The gang took valuables that they could easily carry. 


Botha said that even though there are no signs of an intruder it is still a possibility. Steyn agreed that it is so. 


Botha said that there was no blood on Henri's socks. Steyn agreed to this fact. Albeit there was blood on Henri's boxers.


Botha said that Henri had so many injuries that it could not all fit on a J88 form. Among it were knobs on his face, various cuts and a bruise on his knee.


The court is adjourned until tomorrow.

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It was an incredibly long day in court today although a more exciting one. 


Lieutenant Colonel Henry James Stuart (Steward, Stewart - no one seems to have the correct surname) is called to the stand. Henry has been a forensic analyst since 1994. He has given evidence in court, specifically in hair analysis since 2006. 


He received untampered evidence of sealed hair from the crime scene. He says familial hair is not necessarily the same. Parent and children hair do not have similarities. 


Stuart says that people have the tendency to shed hair and thus hair can be found in other places than on your body. Hair that had fallen out naturally would probably contain a root. 


The line of questioning stems from a crime scene photograph of Marli's hand that had hair in it.


 Apparently, Henry's qualifications have nothing to do with hair analysis but he had attended a course in it. 


The hair found shows a resemblance to Henri Van Breda. Advocate Botha then asked,

 "Only a resemblance?"


 "It is used to exclude and not identify someone?"

 "I agree 100%"


Henry analyzed hairs but there were some that could not be linked to the family. 


Advocate Botha seized this opportunity to put Stuart under fire.

"How many times have you given expert evidence in court?"

"Three times"

"Can you show the court where in your statement you said that there were unknown hairs?"

 "I didn't say that. I wasn't required to say that. It is implied" 


Judge Desai then asked a question himself, "Why didn't you report the fact that some of the hair did not match? Is that not your duty as an expert?"

"It wasn't expected to say which were foreign."


Botha then told Stuart that he will argue in the court that his report is misleading evidence. 


Stuart also claimed he didn't know whose hair he was working with but Botha then refers to emails that were sent from SAPS with instructions and details. 


Stuart said he does not read these to remain objective. 


Stuart says he uses the kit numbers as reference numbers. He reiterates that he only looks at the kit numbers as those are the important numbers. 

Botha then asked him whether he focuses more on the kit number than bag seal number. To which Stuart said that is correct, he does.


Botha then points out in his statement he made a mistake when referring to the reference kit number. Stuart said he had yes. That it is an easy mistake to make. 


Botha said that there was a towel, blood-soaked t-shirt and panty that was covering Marli. Would it have been possible for her to get the hair in her hand if she grasped the towel? Stuart said that it is a possibility. 


Botha says there was also a pillow taken from the room where the men were found that was put under Marli's head to help here breathe. Would it have been possible to come from that? Stuart said that this is also a possibility. 


Botha then asks how Stuart knew Marli had been wearing the panty. He would only have known that if he had read the cover letter.


Stuart said that it is a coincidence. To which Judge Desai replied "Remarkable coincidence."


The hair on Marli's hand is a long one, longer than 10cm. Stuart said in his report that the hairs in the exhibit are 200mm and longer. 

Henri's hair at the time of the murder was no more than 30mm. 

The hair found on the panty and t-shirt were much longer. 



The court is adjourned until tomorrow. 


(All of this seems like a day wasted in court. Hair DNA is a hit and miss science, though it is improving rapidly, the new methods are still not implemented everywhere. In my opinion, the hair is Marli's own.)

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Day 12 is here and we will further drag on about the case of the hair before a neighbor is called to take the stand and the one who took Henri's emergency call that morning.


But first for the boring: Henry Stewart (the surname was finally confirmed) is on the stand again.


Botha asked if any of the hair had blood on it, Stewart said that there hadn't. 


Botha then said that Henri's hair (D21) is classified as light hair, and the hair found on Marli is also classified as light. Rudi's hair is classified as black, he had the darkest hair in the family. 


Botha then says Stewart didn't check pigment density. Stewart replied and said if he had completed all the categories for comparisons he would have been busy for a year. (It's been two years hasn't it?)


Stewart said that his findings are peer reviewed. He only worked with 11 out of 24 categories for comparison. Botha said that there are 6 characteristics he looks at when making comparisons (root, cuticle tip and pigment distribution) Stewart says he used all six of these. [yet earlier it was said he didn't check pigment distribution, this is why we needed live coverage]


Botha then refers to Rudi's black hair. There were black hairs found on Rudi's bed where Martin was also found. Botha said that despite positive indicators that the hair found on the bed is Rudi's, Stewart said he couldn't positively state that it is indeed Rudi's. He said that the microscope showed enough differences to not confirm this.


Stewart also found medium hair on Marli's shirt, while Henri's hair is classified as "fine". Botha then asked him to whom this hair belonged and Stewart only said he can't say, it's an unknown hair. 


Botha then asked about an exhibit where two hairs were found with roots, that were sent for DNA Analysis to which there has been no outcome received. 


Stewart said that all relevant samples were sent for DNA Analysis. 


Botha said that if DNA Analysis had excluded Henri from the outcome, a great question mark would be placed upon Stewart's report. Stewart agrees that this is so but he did what he was required to do. 


After seeing the length of Henri's hair the morning of the incident Stewart says he stands by his work but concedes the chances are nil that it's Henri's hair. 



Next on the stand is Stephanie Op'T Hof. She lived in number 10 Goske street for 2 years, moving out November 2015. 


She said she chose to stay there to feel safe with her two sons, as her husband works overseas. She considers it to be the safest place in Stellenbosch. She didn't know the Van Breda's. She was home the night before the murder and the morning of (26, 27 January  2015) 


She says she put her children to bed at 8 pm and then continued with work that she had, she is an interior decorator. She said she was working on her laptop in the living room, 12 Goske Street right across from her. 


At 10 that evening she heard loud voices, she got a fright and stood up to check where the noise was coming from. It was loud men's voices, having an argument. The argument continued all the way till 12 that night. She went to bed at 12:10.


She said she couldn't hear what the men were saying, she doesn't know how the family member's voices sounded. 


Advocate Combrink cross examined Op'T Hof and asked if she could differentiate between real voices and whether it was a TV? Op'T Hof said that a TV would have breaks, with other noises and snippets in between and not continue as the voices had. 


Her house was completely silent and thus she heard the voices very loud and aggressive. 


In her statement to the police, Op'T Hof said that the house next to her was vacant and Martin Locke and his now wife lived next door. She could clearly hear the noise emanating from number 12. 


She said that Colonel Benecke didn't seem to believe her, but she told him has nothing to gain from this, she doesn't want to be involved. 


They sent audio specialists and confirmed that the noise did indeed come from where she said. Op'T Hof is an exceptional witness, not letting Advocate Combrink rattle her story. 


Combrink says that Rudi, Henri and their Dad was watching Star Trek 2 as they got a new sound system and wanted to test it. A lot of action and screaming happens during the movie.


Op'T Hof says she is familiar with Star Trek and doesn't agree that what she heard is the movie. There was no music at all. 


Martin Locke said in his statement he didn't hear anything. Op'T Hof said she doesn't know why they didn't hear what she had. She heard at least two voices, no female ones. She couldn't hear what language was being spoken.


She said she did not phone security or the police because it didn't sound like they were going to kill each other and she didn't want to interfere. 


Henri then spoke to Advocate Combrink, he has a list of questions for Op'T Hof. 


Advocate Combrink continued questioning of the witness after lunch. 


Between 10 and 11 that evening Mr Wyngaard and Mr Afrika did their security patrol and heard and saw nothing suspicious. Mr Locke had open windows and doors and they didn't hear anything. 


Op'T Hof insists it is not the movie or the TV that she heard. What she heard was voices, not a soundtrack or music. 


If someone screamed for help she would have reacted. 


Advocate Galloway then asked, "Between the argument and the police arriving, did anyone come to your door?"

Op'T Hof, ''No, it's strange that Henri didn't come to my door to come and ask me for help."



The next witness is Janine Philander, she was employed at the Emergency Call Center for Cape Town in 2015.


On 27 January 2015, she was on morning duty, and she received a call from a person who identified himself as Henri and asked for an ambulance. "He was hesitant and I heard a slight - what sounded to me - like a giggle." 


"At first I thought it was someone prank calling. Adults do prank call the line. I asked him for his details and he was very cooperative and calm. We struggled a bit with the address as our system picked up the address in Milnerton. I asked him for landmarks and nearby streets to confirm that he was calling from where he said."


"How did you think it was a prank?"


"By the way he sounded. A normal reaction to home invasion or assault is usually a frantic one, people screaming, shouting, can't recall numbers, very confused. Also very persistent in getting an ambulance out now, getting help now, I waited for that to come through but it didn't.

I informed him that I would phone the police as they can trace where he is. I called the police and he stayed on the line. He was very helpful in giving alternative street names - he didn't get angry or agitated with me. He was just very calm and collected and that was the weirdest thing for me. 

He offered to wait on a different street than where he stayed which was also strange as people normally say they are not going anywhere or they might hang up and call another centre for help. "


Henri's call came at 7:12 on 27 January. The recording was played in court.



The court was then adjourned until tomorrow.


Short part of the call Henri made including the part Janine describes as a giggle.

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Day 13 is upon us as the trial of the year continues.


Janine Philander is still on the stand. And the emergency call is being played to the court. (In my previous post there is a link to a short snippet of it)


Henri sounds flustered as there is trouble with finding the address. Henri is on the phone with Janine and asks that more than one ambulance be sent. 


ER, "Who is injured?"

Henri, "I think everyone. Everyone - four people. Three adults and one teenage girl. A man attacked my whole family. My sister is moving. I don't think the rest are alive. They have head injuries. I don't think they're conscious." 


Henri got very emotional in court as the call was being played. 


Philander said that when something life threatening happens to you, you scream and you shout. Victims don't allow you to waste their time. Normally they don't hold on.


An inordinate amount of time is spent trying to get the address right. There is no urgency whatsoever. 

Henri sounds frustrated but is still calmly trying to help them locate the house. 


Henri was still very emotional as the call was being played to the court. A short adjournment was granted as Henri left the room in tears. 


Botha then continues to question Philander. He said that when Henri was young he had a stutter and was taught a technique to speak very calmly and slowly or else the stutter would be more severe. Philander said she didn't pick up a stutter but that it makes sense.


Botha then refers to the "giggle" Philander said she heard. Judge Desai said he didn't hear a giggle - just a noise. 


Desai said that the ER is just an opinion, albeit she may be experienced, the court will decide whether it is evidence or not. 


Botha said that he is trying to figure out what she is trying to convey to the court. Philander said, "That Henri was calm." To which Botha replied that Henri was anything but calm. 


Botha took issue with the impression Philander is creating. 


Botha said that there are a number of instances where he is stuttering during the call, Philander said she doesn't hear it. 


Botha said that the fact Henri remained polite during the call is counting against him. 

Philander said that he sounded the same throughout the call.

Botha disagreed and said that that is not what he is hearing. 


Botha then asks was it Henri's fault the call took so long?

Philander, "Yes, normally a caller in this type of emergency will set the tone."


They then went on dispute again about how it took so long to find the address. 

Philander says it's strange that Henri didn't hang up and phone back with better directions.

Botha replied and said that Henri was already speaking to an operator he didn't want to risk hanging up and not getting through. 

Philander said that this is reasonable. 


Botha said that in her statement Philander didn't mention the giggle. Only after she had listened to the recording and it was said on social media that he giggled. Botha said that Henri was sobbing and asking please, can Philander refute this? 


Philander just said that it didn't sound that way to her, she heard a giggle. Judge Desai then said that the giggle is just an interpretation. 


Botha asked her why it took her so long to get the address when the ambulance found it in two minutes? Is it because she didn't believe him?

Philander said, "Yes"



Lizette Albertse was next to testify. 


She is a district surgeon at Stellenbosch District Hospital. She examined Henri at 11:30 that morning. She completed a J88 while he was present. 


Albertse noted injuries including scratches, a superficial knife wound, an old scratch above the knee, but noted bruising and swelling, a scratch above the nipple and swelling above the left eye. 


The injuries didn't look serious to her.

She said that when she relooked her form she would better describe the scratches as cuts. 


Advocate Galloway refers to a blood spot on the stairs and asks if that could be there from a significant fall as Henri describes in his plea explanation. 


Albertse said that the injury to the head would be possible but not the knee. The knob on his head was from blunt force and not a sharp object. The injury to his back was an abrasion, similar to say a grass burn as if he scraped against something.


She was asked by the police whether his injuries could be self-inflicted and she said it would need to be referred to a specialist. 

She also took DNA and nail scrapings from him. 


Advocate Botha takes over questioning again saying that she noted him as very quiet and that she couldn't find any clinical proof of drugs or alcohol. Albertse agrees, said that she would definitely have noted the stench of alcohol but she saw nothing to make her think he was under the influence of any substance. 


Botha held up the knife and demonstrates how Henri said he grabbed the attacker's forearm and how the knife was angled to cut him. Botha said Henri also had a cut on his thorax. "Is this possible?"

Albertse said, "I can't say it's not at all possible."


Henri went to see a private doctor that night, with the swelling the size of a small chicken egg above his left eye and two blue eyes. 


Botha asked if Henri could have suffered a concussion if he fell on the stairs and hit his head. Albertse said that this is possible. 


Botha said Henri fell while chasing down the stairs and again when he ascended the stairs and saw his family members on the landing. Botha asks if it is possible that he was concussed after he passed out, resulting in him wetting himself?


Albertse said that this is also possible.



The court is adjourned until tomorrow. 


The various clips that were played in court.


What do you guys think so far?

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Listening to the emergency call: http://news.searchsa.co.za/news/henri-breda-emergency-call.html


I'd lose my shiaat with that emergency operator!! How the bloody hell is he not screaming at this useless woman?


I'd also lose my shiaat and then to find out she was purposefully slow because she thought it was a prank. Ridiculous. I mean, the people were already dead but still. If she does that with everyone she thinks is prank calling, she is costing valuable lives.


I honestly believe that in some places people like her would be charged with culpable homicide.


Sent from my SM-G955F using the Platinum Wealth app

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This is hopefully in response to that dreadful call and not my summaries.


Sent from my SM-G955F using the Platinum Wealth app


Was in response to your question asking what we all thinking about the progress of the case so far.


I purposefully visit this site daily just so that I can get the update here lol

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Day 14 and we will be discussing fingerprints and injuries again.


First on the stand is Jonathan Oliphant. He is a policeman at the Criminal Record Center in Beaufort West. At the time of the murders, he was working at the Criminal Record Center in Worcester. Between 27 and 31 January, he was tasked with finding fingerprints in number 12 Goske Street. He found 53 prints.


On the knife, he found a right thumbprint of Henri on the blade. If the knife points down the thumbprint points up.


He further found the prints of the family, the two domestic workers, the gardener and James' (Marli's ex-boyfriend) prints in the house. 


He also checked the boundary walls thoroughly with the naked eye and a special light. He also used a chemical spray which would give a brown/purple colour if there was a fingerprint. He found no prints or proof of activity on the wall. 


No fingerprints were found on the handle of the axe.


Botha then cross-examined Oliphant saying that if someone wore a glove and climbed over the wall, there wouldn't necessarily be a print.

Oliphant agreed.

There was also a print found on Henri's patio door which wasn't identified. Oliphant said that it could have been a visitor. 

There were various unidentified prints:

On the frame of Henri's bathroom door

Two on the kitchen table

On the car

On a Johnny Walker Bottle

On a Red Heart Rum bottle

(Oliphant said that these were bottles inside the cupboard but yes they are also unidentified) 


Botha then said that the State claims Henri took the axe and attacked his family with it, wouldn't there then be prints on the axe? There was a print on the knife?

Oliphant said that the axe was sent to the lab for testing, he can't testify on their behalf. Oliphant agrees that if the person wore gloves they wouldn't find it. 


Botha then held the axe and the knife - the axe facing towards him and the knife held at the blade - also facing towards him and asked Oliphant if that stance would match the fingerprint location.

Oliphant said he doesn't want to speculate. There were three prints on the knife, two of which are unidentifiable. 


At the top of the blade, there's a smeared print and another further down.


Botha then asked whether the domestic worker's prints were found on the gate because that's where she entered on Monday. Oliphant said no. The responding officer's prints were also not found by Oliphant at the scene. 


Oliphant said that if fingerprints were wiped down or if gloves were worn there wouldn't be any.



Next witness was Dr Marianne Tiemensma. She is a medical specialist at the clinical Forensic Unit at Victoria Hospital. Her expertise includes pathology. She examines and makes findings in both the living and the dead. 


She was asked by SAPS and Dr Albertse to examine Henri's injuries. She compiled two reports on his injuries. One on 12 February 2015 and another 10 March 2015. 


Dr Tiemensma said, "The cut marks were superficial. The incisions have an even depth, parallel and it avoids sensitive areas such as the nipples. The forearm wounds in keeping with self-inflicted injuries, non-lethal, and an even depth. The injuries are all in reachable places. The thorax and the abdomen look different, look caused by stabbing action; also superficial. Judging by the size and the shape of the knife it would be virtually impossible for the knife to have been stuck in any of the stab wounds. I am of the opinion that they are self-inflicted, superficial and non-fatal."


The wounds to the head, leg and the back were unlikely to be self-inflicted. The head injuries could be a blow to the face or a fall.   


The photo is shown of the stairs where the blood spot was found, where Henri said he fell the first time. Dr Tiemensma said that the blood wouldn't be from Henri, his cuts were too superficial to cause blood pooling. It would have had to have been a cut deeper than 4cm as Henri is sturdy. 


Dr Tiemensma said that the second fall could have caused some of the injuries. She doesn't think Henri lost a lot of blood, only a tiny amount, not enough for him to go into shock. You wouldn't expect him to pass out for hours. The bruising and the injury could only have caused a mild concussion.


Dr Tiemensma has read Henri's plea explanation. She said it is quite obvious that some things were described vividly and others not. She said that it's "interesting" how selective it was. 


Marli's hands had defence injuries - bruising on the back of the hands and the knuckles, some small abrasion.These were injuries of someone fighting back. 



The court then adjourned till Monday with Dr Tiemensma to testify again on Tuesday. 


(No ruling has been made on the live streaming yet)

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Day 15 is here and only one witness testified. 


A Michelle van Zyl. She is a medical doctor specializing in emergency medicine. She previously worked at Vegelegen Mediclinic.


She saw Henri on the 27th of January, at 20:25 when he came in with James Reade-Jahn and asked one of his wounds to be examined for possible stitches. 


She noted that there was the smell of alcohol on James Reade-Jahn's breath. 


Advocate Botha said that whatever was said between Dr van Zyl and Henri could not be discussed because of doctor-patient confidentiality. 


Dr van Zyl said that Henri seemed fully orientated of his surroundings. She merely stapled his wound as it wasn't deep enough for stitches and the clips would bring the skin together. She discharged him but the police asked her to look at him again and she completed a J88 form. (The J88 is a legal document completed by a doctor or a registered nurse, documenting injuries where a legal investigation will follow)


The second time she saw him, he was still 100% orientated, he wasn't as friendly, she describes him as "jovial" the first time she saw him. 


She reported that both eyes were swollen, the left one worse as discoloration has happened. She says some wounds can take a while to form if they weren't as hard or as deep. 


On the left forearm, she noted three scratch marks where Dr Albertse noted four. Van Zyl said she could have missed the fourth one. The bruise on his knee was also noted on different sides by the doctors. Van Zyl concedes she could have made a mistake.


Dr van Zyl recalls that Henri conversed casually with the staff (but this was not stated in her report), he was not emotional. 


She didn't prescribe him pain medication. She did note that he appeared confident and answered questions with one-word answers. 


Botha then said that Henri told him the policeman who saw him the morning said he look traumatized, family and friends who saw him said he was emotional and teary, he was only traumatized until he went to the hospital. 


Mrs Reade-Jahn had given Henri a tranquilizer after he had been at the hospital the first time. 


And that is all for today.


The court continues tomorrow.

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Day 16 was a rather long day in court, so bear with me.


Dr Tiemensma is back to testify and most readers and watchers are quite excited.


We are back on the topic of Henri allegedly passing out for hours on the stairs.


Dr Tiemensma said that fainting from emotional shock happens from stress, lightheadedness and a fast heartbeat, which causes one to lose consciousness. The average duration for this is a few seconds, a minute at most. As soon as you are unconscious the body will correct itself by first raising your blood pressure. Fainting is not a serious medical condition and usually happens due to shock, blood loss or injury. 


Advocate Botha interjected and said but Henri didn't lose consciousness from blood loss. 


Dr Tiemensma continued and said a concussion (in this case) is a mild brain injury and if fainting occurs it would only last a few seconds. 90% of concussion patients do not suffer any loss of consciousness. If the fainting does last for more than an hour and more than even a few minutes the concussion will show through a severe headache, vomiting and or nausea. Those types of concussions will need to be evaluated medically.


Dr Tiemensma compiled a report with notes by Dr Albertse. She explained his mental health and emotional status as very quiet. She didn't note any other concussion-like symptoms.


Reasons why she said his wounds are superficial:

  • Superficial, non-fatal
  • Equal depth, linear, no movement in wounds, parallel
  • Wounds are in reachable areas




Dr Tiemensma said that if the altercation took place like Henri said, there would be pushing and pulling transpiring and the incisions would be impossible to make in such a situation. You would also expect the wounds to be in different directions if a person was pulling away. 

The wounds to the thorax and the abdomen are still superficial even if they have a stabbing action to them. The description of how they were sustained does not fit with the injury. 


Dr Tiemensma said that there is a huge contrast between Henri's wounds and that of his family. The family suffered severe axe wounds whereas Henri's wounds are not nearly inflicted with the same force or intent. 

The family exhibits defence wounds which is key when another party is involved but Henri doesn't have any even though he allegedly grabbed at a knife and an axe while defending himself.


Advocate Botha cross-examined Dr Tiemensma (and insulted her quite frankly)


He said that Dr Albertse (a general practitioner) examined Henri and her findings would be more accurate. 

Dr Tiemensma countered that she had the pictures as evidence. 

She also said, "If you are aware, you would pull away. Why would you let someone make exactly the same cut in the same place? They are completely horizontal. Fine and delicate movements. Why would you allow any person to do it? Very unusual and very unlikely. There was movement." 


The way the attack is described and the wounds that are inflicted do not match descriptions given by Henri.


A normal person responds to pain by pulling away, you are not defending yourself by standing still, she said, there was movement going on. 


Advocate Botha then proceeded to demonstrate how Henri said he got the wounds. Dr Tiemensma still disagrees that the wounds and the demonstration do not match. Henri's wounds were "so nice and neat".


Botha continued his argument that the wounds could be caused at the hands of an assailant but Dr Tiemensma stayed adamant that the wounds are self-inflicted. 


He was losing his cool with Dr Tiemensma and Judge Desai told him that he is arguing with the witness and to take a few seconds and ask his question again. 


The blood spot on the stairs was discussed again. Dr Tiemensma said that if the position of Henri's body was correct the blood from the wound on his abdomen could have made the spot. 


Advocate Botha said that Henri was unconscious for 2 hours and 40 minutes after seeing his mother and Marli. 


Tiemensma said she can't give conclusive evidence on the wound on his abdomen relating to the blood spot on the stairs because when she viewed it paramedics had already attended to it. 


As for the bump on Henri's head, he could have had a mild concussion but it wouldn't result in loss of consciousness for hours and he was fully aware of what he was doing when he Googled emergency services. 


Advocate Botha said that Henri's pupils were constricted and had a slow reaction to light. Dr Tiemensma said that this is not limited to a concussion, drug use has the same effect. 


Advocate Botha said that Henri is certain the paramedics didn't clean his wound as those who took the photo wanted to document it as it was. Dr Tiemensma said that she can't comment on that.



The court is adjourned until tomorrow.

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Day 17 arrived as another very long day in court.


Dr Johan Dempers testified. A forensic pathologist.


The defence however objected to some parts of his report. Advocate Galloway said that the admissibility is being challenged.


Advocate Botha said the objection arises from the fact that Dempers makes extensive references to what Henri told the police in his statement on the day of the murders. Both have hearsay and character evidence. 


It is then suggested that Dempers gives his testimony only verbally and does not hand in his report. 


According to him, it is not strange for the wounds of the attacked to differ significantly. He said the defensive wounds on Teresa’s fingers is not consistent with that of Henri’s.  He said that Martin and Rudi had the similar blows to the head.


He said that Henri’s wounds are consistent with what the theory says about self-inflicted wounds. He said he finds it hard to believe that the assailant would only scratch Henri. He also said the fact that the wounds are on his left side would indicate a right-handed person, as Henri is. 


According to Henri’s account, the assailant had the knife in his right hand and Henri had the axe in his right hand. As the person attacked, he got hold of the hand and had control over how the knife penetrated. He attempted to strike the assailant’s shoulder. 


Dempers said that he finds it hard that you would hit someone on the opposing shoulder and not the hand holding the knife. 


Henri struck the person and the stabbing took place with both of them still holding on. The attacker then lets go of the knife. Henri pulled the knife out of his side and dropped it. 


Dempers echoes Dr Tiemensma saying that all of this could not have happened in a vicious altercation as Henri describes. You would have to be standing still. Dr Dempers said that when looking at the severity of the other victims’ wounds, it doesn’t make sense that the attacker would suddenly drop the knife. 


Botha cross-examined and said that Dr Dempers only relied on notes and photos to make his conclusions. Dempers said that pathologists must have all the information at their disposal to make conclusions, it is not a thumb suck situation. I look at the injuries and the circumstances, looks at wounds without the history; then he checks the background of what is said to have happened and then looks at the wounds again to determine if they are self-inflicted. 


“If I only look at the wounding, they are superficial, parallel, and that is already suspicious. Am I saying they are all self-inflicted? No. I have to concede that there are other possibilities for some of them.”

Botha, “Is it possible for someone to have caused it?”

Dempers, “Yes, but the victim would need to have been standing still. The depth and characteristics are not in keeping with an attack.” 


Dempers had conducted experiments relating to the wound on Henri’s abdomen. He tested it with a piece of pork using a knife. He placed the knife 5cm into the pork and shook it, the knife remained lodged for 2-3 seconds before it fell out. He did the same with the pork heated but didn’t get a different result. Pork skin is significantly thicker than human skin. The tissue is not as pliable as human tissue. 


Botha says the vast difference between the family and Henri’s wounds could be because he was attacked with a knife and not only the axe. 


Only Martin does not show any potential defence wounds. 


Botha then said that Henri’s adrenaline would have been affected, and after witnessing the attack he would have felt the effects.

Dempers said that it would have had a physiological reaction. 


Botha then asked if Henri did injure himself did he do so to mark his involvement in the incident? Dempers said yes. 


Looking at a photo of Henri in the ambulance, Advocate Botha asked if the marks on his chest could have been from one slashing motion. Dempers said that it could be possible, however, upon closer examination they seem to be coming from different directions, if it were one slash it would have been nearly impossible for both to be the same depth or morphology.


Advocate Botha demonstrated on Advocate Combrink what the attacker had done, but Dempers said that he finds it unlikely. The cuts are perfectly perpendicular. If this was a controlled dance of a fight, yes, but it wasn’t. Exactly equidistant and the same depth.


If you look closely at the photo they are not exactly aligned but they are parallel, running in the same direction. If it happened as part of the struggle the chances of them being parallel is not likely, not plausible, highly unlikely. 

Dempers said that during a struggle for life and death he finds it strange that Henri targeted the man’s shoulder. “The arm was there. It doesn’t fit in with what is expected to happen in a fight or flight situation.”


Dempers said that looking at it logically, saying that the same person who slashed people with an axe, there is no reason why he should suddenly fight so differently with Henri. “I was told to never say never, but in this scenario, I find it very unlikely.”


Botha said that Henri is a strong man, he played rugby and he swam.

Dempers said that the fact the attacker may have been tired doesn’t gel for him. Adrenaline would cause a person to fight back. He would have expected Henri to pull his arm free and hit with the axe with vigour.



The court is adjourned until tomorrow. It is expected that the pathologist who did the autopsies will testify.

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Day 18 is here and not exactly perfect for the squeamish. 


Dr Daphne Anthony is the first to testify. She did the autopsies on the deceased family members on 29 January 2015. 


In all three cases, the cause of death is listed as head injuries and the causes thereof. Traumatic injury has a high mortality rate. 


If approached from an anatomical perspective, we start with the scalp, usually covered by hair. Underlying the scalp, you have the skull, consisting of the skull cap and the base of the skull. Underlying that you find the brain; then the intracranial substance of the brain. 


A scalp injury leads to loss of a large amount of blood. The skull can fracture if the elasticity is exceeded. You get different kinds of fractures – linear, multiple compound and common.


It is not the skull fracture that caused the death but the damage of the brain tissue, which eventually caused death. At the base of the brain, a considerable amount of force was applied to the head. 


Henri had moved to the far side of his dock to not view the images of his family.


Intracranial haemorrhage can also occur, leading to raised intracranial bleeding – causing swelling and eventual death of the person. 


From the nature of the injuries, you can draw inferences regarding the object used and a specific occurrence – such as assault or whether a scuffling took place and whether there are any defensive wounds. 


Another important factor is the base of the skull fracture, which leads to blood gathering in the mouth and nasal area. 


Judge Desai then asked about Rudi. Dr Anthony said Rudi was still alive for a while after the attack, he suffered through the pain. We know because he swallowed blood that was found in his stomach.


Head injury does not mean immediately dead, you may be able to move a little, survive for a period of time, maybe lift your head, but if you’re unconscious then not. 


Here is a list of Rudi van Breda’s injuries:

External, sharp and blunt trauma to his head and neck

Injury found on his knee and left wrist, abrasions on his left wrist. Possible defence wounds on left small finger – the nail was loose.

Skull fractures to skull cap and base. Injuries to the brain. The blood in the stomach. A lung appeared collapsed.

The blood in the stomach indicates active swallowing, it can’t happen passively. The person was alive for longer than a few minutes. 

Extensive scalp lacerations. 

Loose skull bone fragments.

Injuries made with great force and speed behind it.

All in all, 12 wounds, of which a great many were large gaps in his head varying sizes from 2cmx7cm and 2cmx4cm.


At this point in time, Henri had his head in his hands and appeared to be crying.


Dr Anthony said that skull examination showed evidence of haemorrhage and fracturing. When she removed the brain she found lacerations, contusions and linear fracture, but no notable swelling. 


Dr Anthony was handed the axe used in the murders. She said that it would have had to be someone strong to wield the axe in such a manner.


Here is a list of Martin van Breda’s injuries:


Evidence of sharp and blunt force on central upper back and head. No signs of defensive wounds. 

Skull fractures and injuries to the base of the skull, he was also not immediately dead. He still inhaled blood which was aspirated to his lungs. 

Also blood in his stomach

His organs failed, indicative that he bled out. 

Chop wound in the upper back, also laceration on the back of his head. 

Also, large wounds indicating great force.


Evidence shows Martin was most likely surprised by the attack as there are no signs of defensive wounds. 


Teresa van Breda’s injuries:


Sharp and blunt trauma to head. Small focal abrasions on nose bridge and contusions on her back.

Evidence of defensive wounds – cut on her thumb as she tried to ward off an attack.

Skull fractures, brain injury.

Severe blood loss

No other internal injuries

Several loose skull and bone fragments. 

Underlying brain tissue visible with the naked eye. 

No blood in her lungs or stomach indicates that she died fairly quickly. 


In Henri’s version of events, the lights were turned on as Martin came into the room (all of this happening with Henri watching) Martin then lunged toward the attacker to either tackle him or at least get between the attacker and Rudi. However, Martin was struck with the axe and fell on the bed, Henri didn’t see him move again but despite this, the attacker hit him a couple of times. The attacker was also laughing whilst attacking his dad.


When asked about fatal wounds Dr Anthony said, one of Teresa’s wounds could have been fatal, three of Martin’s wounds by themselves were enough to be fatal.


Henri was sitting on the floor in court, Judge Desai asked where he is and his head peeped up from the dock.


Marli’s injuries are consistent with that of her family. She showed evidence of self-defense, a great deal more than Teresa and Rudi. Showing that she had a greater scuffle with her attacker than the others. 


According to Dr Anthony, Rudi suffered the most violent attack according to injuries. 


Desai then asked who was killed first?


According to Dr Anthony, she can postulate some of the events from the wounds. Rudi was attacked first, he was laying on the right side of his face, and the trauma to his head shows he was aware of what was coming. He lifted his hand in an attempt to ward it off, hence the lifted finger nail. 


With Martin, his injuries were sustained to the back and head. No evidence of defensive wounds, it is most likely he was surprised from the back, unaware of the attack. 


With Teresa, she faced the assailant, instinctively raising also her right hand. She most likely fell forward on her face where the abrasions to her nose bridge happened. 


Advocate Galloway asked how Marli survived the attack? Dr Anthony said that a lot of factors make the difference, her age, the severity of the wounds, blood loss. Because she was so young she is more likely to survive. 


A photo was then shown of Rudi laying near the bathroom door. Dr Anthony said that even though Rudi was assaulted on the bed it is possible to still move. You are not necessarily immediately unconscious or immobile. 


A Dr Perumal also made reports on Rudi, saying that it took 2 hours and 40 minutes for him to die. Dr Anthony said that she can’t completely dispute it. 


(Then there was questioning about photographs being released to the media)


Dr Anthony said that it is possible if Martin tackled the assailant, that the assailant could reach and strike him from behind. 


Back to Marli’s injuries, she could still survive but head injuries made it possible for her to be in a semi-comatose state but still able to move a limb here and there depending on brain injuries. 


Dr Anthony was excused and the matter of Henri’s statement to the police was called upon again regarding admissibility.


It is clear from the evidence shown that Henri was seen as a suspect at the time. He wasn’t given food, dressed only in boxer shorts and the question posed to Dr Albertse whether his injuries were self-inflicted. His statement was taken at 15.52 that afternoon. He was entitled to be warned that he doesn’t have to make a statement, had the right to legal representation and the right to remain silent. 


Botha said that food and sleep deprivation are acts of torture. It is the reason why he decided to sign his statement. 


Galloway said that the statement was taken as Henri is a witness, not a suspect.


Henri didn’t volunteer to speak, they asked him questions and he answered. 


He was interviewed to determine what had happened and to identify a suspect. 


(So the admissibility is still to be determined.)


The court is adjourned until Monday I believe.

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Interesting stuff


That was one vicious "attacker" from the description of injuries


Hopefully he will rot in jail for many many years


I can't even think how someone can do that to one person, let alone nearly 4. At this point in time I can't even say anymore whether I think it will be a guilty verdict.

The defence is good. No lies. But some things just don't add for me. Especially his wounds. If it comes to an innocent verdict I would never be able to believe it. He was involved definitely.

The other thing that bothers me is Marli put up a fight, and Henri did what? Stood around, picking his nose, and let his mother and sister be attacked?

Nowhere have I heard that he tried to intervene or save anyone. I hear a whole lot of him being ignored and him watching everything unfold.

I sincerely hope we don't screw this up again.


Sent from my SM-G955F using the Platinum Wealth app

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Day 19 (Week 6) and I am already tired just thinking about how boring this day was in court. Not unimportant just not what I thought I would be reporting on. 


Sergeant Clinton Malan is back to testify in the “trial-within-the-trial”. AKA, the admissibility of Henri’s statement and any and all surrounding issues. I will try and keep this as short as possible for all of us. 


Malan says he is aware of the accused and detainee’s rights. Albeit Henri was not notified of his right to remain silent, of legal representation, to not say anything to incriminate himself. 


Captain Steyn also questioned Henri at the scene but Malan was not there at that point. By the time they left the scene, Henri had already given his version of events to Steyn. Malan does not remember giving evidence bags containing swabs to Dr Albertse but says that if she says that that is what happened, then it must be. 


Malan said he doesn’t remember all that well the color of Henri’s shirt or if it had writing on it but he was definitely wearing a short sleeved shirt. Dr Albertse, on the other hand, did not note Henri was wearing a shirt – only his boxer shorts.


A sergeant Adams is the one who spoke to Dr Albertse, he (Malan) was in the waiting room with Henri. He can’t comment on whether Dr Albertse was asked to check if Henri’s wounds were self-inflicted. 


They had driven in a sedan car, Malan said. Henri said in his version though that it was a double-cab bakkie. Henri had sat in the back seat.


Botha said that Henri said that he had been told that Marli had been given a drug and she was wide awake and telling everything. Malan said that this did not happen. 


During the time Henri was questioned he was apparently still wearing shorts. Malan said during Colonel Benecke’s interview with Henri, Henri had been wearing long pants. Malan said that as far as he understands, the family had arrived and this is where the clothes came from. 


Malan said he doesn’t know about the family being denied to see Henri. He also said Henri wasn’t informed of any rights because he was seen as a victim. 


Henri said that during his statement he wasn’t sure of things like the times and that Colonel Benecke would suggest times. Malan said that Benecke asked times and asked what happened – Henri gave the details himself. 


Malan was the one who took the statement. Botha said Henri said that there was more than one person. Malan said that this is not true, Henri said he had seen one person and never mentioned any other persons.


They were further disputing where Henri had gotten his clothes. It’s a big mess of he-said-she-said. 


Dr van Zyl said that she was told that night that Henri is an alleged suspect. Botha said that it’s strange to draw blood from Henri for drugs and alcohol testing if he was only a witness or a victim. 


Botha then turned to the statement Malan took, saying that it is filled with language and spelling errors. Malan said that is correct. Botha then said there are places where words were used which Henri said is definitely not English he would use. Botha then asked that if there was a recording, would this be what he heard? Malan said that is correct. 

Malan said Henri did read the statement after it was taken. Botha said that Henri saw the errors but just signed it because he wanted to go home. 


Botha then asked if Henri was given anything to eat. Malan said no, Henri did not ask for anything. 


Botha says Malan’s version of the statement is not correct in terms of what Henri told him. Henri didn’t give the exact height of the attacker and yet an exact height is given, Henri spoke of two suspects to Benecke yet Malan mentions only one in the statement he took.


Malan says the statement was printed after Henri read it and he signed it. 



The court is adjourned until tomorrow when Andre du Toit – Henri’s uncle - is set to testify.

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