Bloodbath leaves Winelands reeling
Residents of an exclusive Cape Winelands golfing estate were left reeling after three members of a family were murdered, a fourth was critically injured and a fifth "taken away" by the police.
International businessman Martin van Breda, 54, his wife Teresa, 55, and their 22-year-old son, Rudi, were found dead in their multimillion-rand home on the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate, near Stellenbosch. It is not clear when they were killed or how.
The Van Bredas' 16-year-old daughter, Marli, is in a critical condition in hospital and their 20-year-old son, Henri, was seen being "taken away" from the scene by police for questioning.
"[Henri] could not have been seriously injured because he could walk. I saw this myself," said Eben Potgieter, chairman of the estate's home owners' association.
"Henri is being treated as a witness at this stage. He had scratches and cuts."
Potgieter said that just after 7am yesterday a neighbour's domestic worker had seen Henri standing outside the house speaking on his cellphone.
She allegedly saw blood on him.
Potgieter said Marli had sustained serious head injuries caused by blunt force trauma.
"An axe has been mentioned as a possible murder weapon. However, I can't state this as fact as the police need to officially confirm this."
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut would not comment on speculation about an axe.
He said no arrests had been made in connection with the crime and the police were not in a position to speculate on the motive for the attack on the family.
Robert Daniels, spokesman for Emergency Medical Services in Western Cape, said: "A young woman with serious head injuries was rushed to Stellenbosch Mediclinic. An adult male in his early 20s with minor injuries was taken into police custody for questioning."
Last night, Marli was being moved to a hospital in Somerset West.
Her father was a "master licence partner" of Engel & Völkers in Australia, an international company that sells and rents "premium residential property, commercial real estate and yachts", according to its website.
Amanda Scribante, who met the family several years ago when they holidayed in Mauritius and kept in contact with Marli via Facebook, described the three siblings as wonderful.
"I was working at one of the hotels in the kids' club. They were fantastic. So full of life. Really fun. I cannot believe that this has happened. It doesn't make any sense.
"I really liked them. They were incredibly affectionate. They used to call me mommy. This is terrible," she said.
Teresa van Breda's nephew Rudolph Muller declined to comment.
"Please understand that we can't speak on this. We cannot talk now. We just can't. We are not saying anything," he said.
Though it is unclear when the family left South Africa, Potgieter said they had returned last year. It is believed Martin van Breda returned in November, shortly after the rest of the family.
In a statement issued by Engel & Völkers in 2010, Breda is quoted as saying: "I am looking forward to opening up the Engel & Völkers network and providing its services to the Australian market. The demand for premium properties and a professional service provider is very high, especially here on the East Coast."
The average house price on the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate is R9-million, estate manager Boet Grobler said. A home was sold last year for R22-million.
The estate has proved to be one of the most sought-after real estate investments in South Africa, having achieved record sales since launching in 2002. It is also home to the popular Terroir restaurant.
In a statement, Potgieter said: "We wish to report that there was no breach of our security on the estate and we believe it was an isolated incident, confined to the scene of the crime . As soon as more details become available, we shall release the same to residents."
He said home owners from across the world, including London, had been calling all day "because they are worried about the safety of their properties".
Residents on the estate declined to talk to the media.