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The Van Breda murder trial


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Right, would I be wrong in making the assumption that Henri is the only "suspect" in connection with these murders, apart from the alleged "intruders" that left zero evidence of them even being there?


Yes, he is the only suspect as attempts to find the described assailants led to nothing.

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If memory serves, he said he sat in his brothers toilet with the door slightly ajar while reading his smartphone?


That definitely doesn't sound like anything I would do. Why on earth sit on your brothers toilet with the light off, oh because the door was open, right ?!?!?

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Day 57 in court and I had the privilege of being there myself.


PS, Headlines, media and people say Henri broke down in court when Galloway implied a fight between Henri and Marli. I saw no breakdown. A slight pause, yes, to answer the question put to him. But I did not see an emotional Henri. Quite the contrary.


Henri was calm, stoic. From testifying though it almost seems like someone making up a lie as they go about the smaller details. Henri started the morning confident but Galloway rattled his bones.


An audible rustling went through the court as Advocate Galloway inferred that Henri sustained the bump on his forehead and perhaps other injuries whilst fighting Marli. Marli fought back the hardest and had a defence wound on her knuckles that could be consistent with having punched Henri on his forehead.


Henri vehemently denied that this happened.


Galloway also addressed the time line of what happened after he regained consciousness. He apparently got up from the stairs and noticed blood that he supposed had come from his stab wound.


He was smoking cigarettes whilst calling the emergency services. The number he had Googled. I also have to note here, that Henri had to step around a pool of blood to get his cigarettes. There is a blood stain on his sock acquired from the blood dripping down the stairs.


So Henri phoned emergency services from the cordless phone of the house, having Googled the number on his mobile. Completely ignoring the two 24 hour medical emergency numbers on the fridge, in the kitchen where he was, and having been aware of them. He said that he thought he was doing all he could to help them. That it would be quicker to get direct help instead of phoning security who would then anyway phone the ambulance. Whilst Henri was on the phone calling emergency services, he was calling Bianca on his cell phone. No less than five times. "Why did you call Bianca? A minor girl, living in a hostel, what could she have done?"

Henri said he doesn't know. "To talk to someone."

Galloway also asked why he didn't take the cordless phone with him while talking to emergency services and check on his family.

Why he didn't press a towel to their injuries? Henri said he didn't think he could help them and that he was doing the best he could.


In the emergency call Henri is heard saying that his family has head injuries. However, Henri never checked on the family. He said he told this to Philander because in Australia if you said this they would immediately send an ambulance. Galloway said he didn't even need to say this. His family DID have head injuries. Henri said he saw his dad and Rudi get attacked and could say it was head injuries.


Galloway asked why Henri didn't go outside and call for help? Henri said that it wouldn't help if they weren't medical professionals. However, Henri wouldn't know, they could as well have been. It has been said numerous during the trial that the van Breda's didn't know their neighbors.


There was also debate about the position of the knife. Having been found under the bed. It could have been pushed there or bounced. It is interesting to know that the duvet was bundled nearly on top of the knife and a pool of blood. The bundling must have been on purpose as Rudi was too weak to have done it, and all the other family members were not there except Henri.


Galloway also asked why there were no paw prints? Where was Sasha? Galloway asked whether this is because Henri locked her up and then attacked his family? He say this did not happen.


Galloway asked why it seemed like Henri had selective memory loss. When it comes to the most important parts of the case Henri "can't recall".


The state finished their questioning and it seems like the court is adjourned until tomorrow.

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If memory serves, he said he sat in his brothers toilet with the door slightly ajar while reading his smartphone?


That definitely doesn't sound like anything I would do. Why on earth sit on your brothers toilet with the light off, oh because the door was open, right ?!?!?


Henri and Rudi shared a room. So it's their shared bathroom.


Why the light was off, only he would know.

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Day 58, Advocate Botha said they want to call in a psychologist for next week to explain why Henri acted the way he did. He said they will send their questions to the state by Thursday to have them prepared for their own questioning.


Botha questioned Henri today. Just going over facts of the event again.

Henri said he hid his cigarettes in a shoe by the bottom of the stairs. Marli wasn't supposed to know he smokes. His parents didn't want it to influence Marli.


As far as I can tell, the court is adjourned until Monday.

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I apologize for not writing yesterday. I was ill.

Yesterday in court we heard that Henri suffered a seizure last week and was admitted to Constantia mediclinic on Friday and released Sunday night. Henri was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.


The court is in somewhat of a shambles on who will be next on the stand as the psychologist who would have attested to Henri's reactions to the murders, now may have to alter her report in light of this diagnosis.

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Well the diagnosis is sticking albeit the neurologist said that this condition is uncommon in adults. A neurologist and the doctor who diagnosed Henri will testify at the end of the month. Advocate Botha asked of an unimpressed Desai for a two week adjournment to prepare for these two witnesses. Desai said he had hoped to finish the trial this week as he wants to get on with his life. Botha said it will not be dragged out. A day or two at most.

The court is adjourned until the 27th of November.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is day Who Knows of the Henri Van Breda trial. I had the unfortunate privilege of being in court myself again. 


A neurologist, Dr James Butler, testified today and will continue his testimony tomorrow. 

Dr Butler has been in private practice since the 90's and frequently consults with hospitals and clinics. 


He testified at length about seizures and epilepsy. Dr Butler conducted an EEG on Henri. He also admitted him to the hospital for subsequent testing. Dr Butler said the chances of Henri malingering is an absolute no. The tests can't be fooled. 


Dr Butler said that Henri has a history of jerks or twitches and has had two major seizures of which he is aware after consulting with both Henri and his girlfriend. The first seizure he knows of happened around February 2016. The second being the one that happened on the 8th of November 2017. 


The court was shown a video of Henri having a violent jerk whilst in stage 2 sleeping (as was monitored by the EEG) which subsequently woke him. 


Van Breda's girlfriend reported that with the most recent seizure Henri was discussing the court case with her when he abruptly "lost his memory", fell backwards onto the bed, his eyes rolled back and he was shaking. 


After hearing the accounts and having done the tests, Dr Butler said that it is highly likely Henri has Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. 


Desai asked how all this information pertains to the night of the murders? Does this explain the 2 hours and 40 minutes? Do seizures last that long?


Dr Butler said that a major seizure (a grand mal seizure) could have occurred. A grand mal seizure can last minutes. But it's what happens after that could explain what happened. The court was shown slides of someone's brain activity during a seizure and the activity after a grand mal seizure. Afterwards, the activity registers like someone is brain dead. The seizure is followed by a postictal state in which the brain repairs itself after a seizure. This state can last anywhere from 3 minutes to hours, perhaps more depending on the severity of the seizure. The postictal state is often followed by amnesia.


Dr Butler said that in his opinion he would say Henri had a grand mal seizure. In which he also wet his pants. Henri was not aware that this had happened until officers or paramedics pointed it out. The wetting of pants is often seen in people who have seizures. 


Dr Butler was asked if he would comment on what Henri sounded like on the phone call. Dr Butler said from what he heard he would connotate Henri's behaviour to the seizure. The lack of urgency and purpose could still indicate the postictal state. 


The court is adjourned until tomorrow morning. 



*I had an interesting conversation with a man in court this morning who told me that Judge Desai was arrested in 2004 for rape. The woman withdrew the charges without any explanation. The man told me it was because she had been bribed. Having read about the case now it's difficult to tell. But in my mind, Desai's integrity has been compromised. Is this someone who should be ruling over cases?

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Pretty much what was expected from the Doc


The tidbit on Desai is somewhat worrying, but then again this is South Africa, can we really expect less?


Probably not and the case is less than conclusive. Leaving it open to speculation.

I also heard the van Breda case is his last before he retires, hence the rush.

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Today in court Dr James Butler was back on the stand.


The state was questioning the witness.

Dr Butler said it was possible that the accused had hatched a plan in advance to murder his family but he could not have planned or faked the epileptic seizure.


Desai on the other hand was having none of it. The evidence of said seizure is all based on what Henri has told the doctor. And not on objective evidence.


Dr Butler stood by his opinion that the photos of Henri looking dull and of him not being aware he had wet his pants and of the bruise on his head, but well aware of the other injuries that he had sustained before the maybe seizure would be consistent with someone who had a seizure.


Galloway also pointed out that the internet holds comprehensive coverage of epileptic attacks, which the accused could easily access.


Galloway said a fit is convenient as it leaves no scars.


When Galloway asked how Dr Butler knew that he Henri spent that time lying on the stairs he replied that Henri had told him so.


Galloway said there is no history at all of Henri having seizures.


The court is adjourned until tomorrow.

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Why would a man like a mister Butler risk his reputation like this? Feels like a sure fire way to end your career.


Being part of any investigation or a case this large is always a risk. I do believe Dr Butler is telling the truth. As he perceives it. We can't blame him for if Henri is screwing with him about the grand mal seizure.

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It feels like this trial is going downhill quickly as most parties involved just want it over and done with as quickly as possible, regardless of the outcome or what shortcuts they take in order to get there.


I must say, I'm not thrilled with the parties wanting to rush it. But at this point in time what other factors can be brought in to alter the case?

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