Van Breda murder case: Did the neighbours hear anything?

One neighbour heard aggressive voices, another did not hear a thing

25 October 2017 - 08:25 By Tanya Farber
Murder accused Henri van Breda
Murder accused Henri van Breda
Image: Esa Alexander

A neighbour heard males having a massive fight a few hours before the Van Breda axe killings at 12 Goske Street - while another heard "nothing at all".

Earlier this year Stephanie Op't Hof testified for the state in the Henri van Breda murder trial. He is accused of axing his parents and brother to death.

She said she heard aggressive male voices engaged in a fight earlier in the evening before the killings and was taken aback.

The sounds - the defence tried unsuccessfully to convince her - were actually the sound track of Star Trek 2.

On Tuesday in the High Court in Cape Town, another neighbour - for the defence - said "she heard nothing" despite the fact that "sound carries easily" at the estate.

Annelize Taljaard, who lived at number 14 Goske Street with her three children (two at school and one now at university), said she was home on the night of January 26 2015.

She did not hear a fight when she headed to bed at her usual time between 10pm and 10.30pm. She said she got up as usual around 5am to go and have a swim.

It was only later that morning, after dropping her children at school, that she became aware something had gone wrong.

"I saw the ambulances and the police," she said. News of the bloody killings spread across the highly fortified estate.

Under cross-examination, Taljaard conceded to Megan Blows for the state that there are several buildings between her house and that of the Van Bredas - including a garage, a double-storey house that was under construction and a communal entertainment area.

Blows pointed to evidence that showed Taljaard would not be able to hear what was happening at the Van Breda house and that it stood to reason she would not have heard the fight either.

She said "the accused claims he heard a sound so loud and strange that he was startled" just before he "saw Rudi [his brother] being hit with an axe" and that he then "shouted for help with the intent of drawing attention".

Taljaard said she had not heard anything.

Also, said Blows: "The accused claimed the attacker laughed on two occasions - did you hear such?"

Taljaard said she did not.

"It is undisputed that three people died that night and one young lady was severely attacked as well.

"The fact that you didn't hear something doesn't mean something didn't happen," said Blows.

"And the fact that you didn't hear anything doesn't mean Mrs Op't Hof didn't. Unlike you, she lived directly opposite the Van Bredas with no buildings in between."

Taljaard concluded her testimony by describing how safe everyone had always felt at De Zalze.

"You never think someone might be around. It doesn't cross your mind - so much so that I left my three children in the house and went for a swimming session."

Straight after her, the security of the estate was raised again by the defence, this time with witness Charl Rabie - who owns an electric fencing company - in the witness stand.

Rabie said electric fencing around the perimeter does not render the estate impermeable - not only because there are ways to bypass it, but also because "it won't kill you" if you get shocked.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway argued that Rabie neither installed nor maintained the system at De Zalze and it came to light he didn't know the name of the system used there either.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday.