Tik twist in Stellenbosch axe murder case
Detectives investigating the Stellenbosch axe killings may turn to the courts to get the medical records of the Van Breda family's surviving son, Henri.
Police believe Henri was addicted to the drug tik and would need his records to substantiate their suspicions.
Henri, 20, and his sister, Marli, 16, survived the axe attack on January 27 that killed father Martin, 54, mother Teresa, 55, and elder son Rudi, 22. Marli is recovering in hospital from severe head and neck wounds. Henri suffered only light injuries - these are now believed to have been self-inflicted.
Police are investigating several possible motives for the killing. One of these is that Henri's parents had cut off his allowance.
This week, the Sunday Times tracked down a man who claimed to have been Henri's drug runner.
The young man lives in a shack at the edge of Kreefgat, Jamestown, a small informal settlement barely 200m from the upmarket De Zalze golf estate where the Van Bredas lived and were killed.
The runner, who said his name was Mark, identified Henri (below) from a photograph and said that although he did not know his name, he knew him as a regular customer.
"He started coming here a couple of months ago, sometimes by himself, and sometimes with a friend. They drove a motorbike," said Mark.
"He would give me between R40 and R200 at a time. Then I would go and get his drugs from the dealer. He bought tik, and from another dealer in Jamestown he bought dagga."
Mark, who did not supply drugs but put customers in touch with suppliers, said he hadn't seen Henri for the past three weeks.
Police have not taken a statement from Mark. Sources close to the investigation said this was not necessary because Henri's medical records would be subpoenaed to prove addiction.
Tik is an extremely addictive drug that is cheap and easily manufactured. It emerged just over a decade ago on the Cape Flats and has spread like wildfire. The drug, also known as crystal meth, lowers inhibition, sharpens the senses and fuels aggression. It has devastating social consequences, with addicts usually turning to crime to fund their habit.
Henri reportedly spent time at an upmarket mental health and drug rehabilitation centre in Loevenstein, Bellville, last year.
The centre will also have the results of blood and toxicology tests conducted on the morning of the killings.
Sources last week confirmed that a doctor had found the cuts and bruises on Henri's arms were self-inflicted and that he had called emergency services more than four hours after the attack.
This week, further details of that call emerged. During the call - leaked to the media days after the incident - a calm Henri can be heard telling operators he and his family were "attacked by a guy with an axe".
He then said he was in the toilet when the attack started and that he was the last one attacked. He said the intruder "threw the axe" at him, and that he passed out while being assaulted. He said he called for help when he regained consciousness. At one point during the call he can be heard giggling nervously.
A spokesman for the Van Breda family, Ben Rootman, refused to comment on Henri's alleged drug addiction and treatment. "The family is supporting Henri. He is receiving counselling and is being monitored," said Rootman.
He did not elaborate on the type of counselling or the reason for the monitoring.
Rootman did confirm the appointment of lawyers to assist Henri - advocates Lorinda van Niekerk and Pieter Botha.
Asked about Marli's state of health, Rootman said: "Marli has a complete medical team looking after her physically and emotionally. The family has total trust in this medical team, and they understand that whatever is done at the moment is done with her best interest in mind.
"Last week she was still critical. This week, I am happy to report that she is stable and improving as we speak."
When asked about reports on Henri and a possible plea, Rootman warned that it was reckless to speculate about the police investigation.
"The law must be allowed to follow its course. They must be allowed to do a proper investigation," he said.