Was this Van Breda's biggest mistake? Read Judge Desai's full judgment
Henri van Breda was found guilty on all counts against him. Here’s the moment Judge Desai found Henri van Breda guilty.
Henri van Breda didn’t have to give evidence in his own defence‚ but he elected to do so.
And it may have been his biggest mistake since attacking his father‚ mother‚ brother and sister with an axe‚ then deciding to concoct an outlandish story to cover up his crimes.
Judge Siraj Desai’s 34‚000-word summary judgment‚ delivered on Monday after a 67-day trial and now available for the first time‚ says Van Breda‚ 23‚ was “singularly unimpressive” as a witness (scroll down for the judgment).
“Initially he appeared confident during his‚ quite apparently‚ well-rehearsed evidence-in-chief but was more uncomfortable during cross-examination‚” said Desai.
“His answers were vague on difficult issues whereas he gave a detailed version on other aspects. He tended to adjust his answers very subtly and contradicted himself in the process.
“His standard answer to difficult questions implicating him as the perpetrator‚ amounted often to uninformative answers like ‘I should have’ without explaining the issue at hand‚ sensibly and adequately.”
During his testimony‚ Van Breda wielded an axe in Court 1 at the High Court in Cape Town‚ attempting to demonstrate how he was the only family member able to fight off the mysterious masked axeman he accused of butchering his father Martin‚ mother Teresa‚ brother Rudi — all of whom died — and sister Marli‚ who survived.
Henri van Breda re-enacted the battle that took place between himself and the alleged attacker in his home.
But Desai’s judgment suggested he wasted his time‚ and in the end the circumstantial case against Van Breda was overwhelming and inescapable.
“Each piece of evidence on its own might not be enough to establish the guilt of [Van Breda] but the cumulative effect of all the pieces concludes the puzzle‚” said Desai.
“Independent circumstances point to the same conclusion. This leads to only one reasonable inference.”
Van Breda‚ who attacked his family at their home in De Zalze‚ Stellenbosch‚ in January 2015‚ will be back in court for sentencing next month.