‘I want to get on with my life’‚ says judge as Van Breda trial is delayed

14 November 2017 - 13:50 By Tanya Farber
Henri Van Breda gives testimony.
Henri Van Breda gives testimony.
Image: Esa Alexander

An exasperated Judge Siraj Desai says he wants “to get on with my life" after a two-week delay in the Van Breda murder trial reared its head on Tuesday in the High Court in Cape Town.

Henri Van Breda stands accused of axing his parents and brother to death‚ and leaving his sister for dead‚ in their luxury estate home in Stellenbosch in 2015.

The state finished leading evidence in chief a few weeks ago‚ and the defence was set to complete theirs this week.

However‚ Van Breda had a seizure last week before being diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy‚ and now his neurologist‚ Dr James Butler‚ needs more time to put his report together.

This means court will only sit again on November 27.

When Desai said "I want to get on with my life‚" Van Breda’s advocate‚ Pieter Botha‚ replied: "So do I."

Desai said at the start of Tuesday's session that he wanted the defence's evidence in chief done and dusted by this coming Friday‚ but after it came to light that Butler needed time for his report‚ Desai said he "reluctantly" agreed to grant such time‚ but that he wants it "done with no further delays by December 1".

"This trial has now been unduly prolonged‚ though I accept Botha's argument that this witness was unexpected [due to the seizure]. I am reluctantly postponing this matter‚ and do so purely in the interests of justice‚" he said.

At stake is the crucial point of the "lost" two hours and forty minutes when Van Breda claims he lay unconscious at the bottom of the stairs after his family had‚ he claims‚ been brutally attacked by a laughing man in a balaclava.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway has argued that no such loss of consciousness occurred. She questioned why Van Breda would not have mentioned that to the doctor who saw him later that day‚ and also argued that no explanation "at all" existed for him to have lost consciousness.

Butler‚ says Botha‚ will provide testimony on any possible links between the juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and the alleged loss of consciousness.