Marli van Breda still missing as brother Henri learns his fate

07 June 2018 - 12:56 By Tanya Farber
Henri van Breda stands to hear his sentencing in the Cape Town High Court. Van Breda received three life sentences after being found guilty of triple murder of his mother, father and brother.
Henri van Breda stands to hear his sentencing in the Cape Town High Court. Van Breda received three life sentences after being found guilty of triple murder of his mother, father and brother.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

If the High Court in Cape Town was a circus when Henri van Breda was convicted in May‚ on Thursday it was a veritable carnival on steroids.

It was as if every single journalist‚ photographer‚ Van Breda‚ Du Toit‚ witness‚ curious onlooker and old school friend within reach of Cape Town had crammed into the court waiting for triple axe murderer Van Breda to finally hear his life sentences.

He was found guilty on May 21 of axing his brother Rudi and parents Teresa and Martin to death‚ before turning to his younger sister Marli to attempt the same.

Marli survived the attack‚ and the injuries on her body mapped out two heartbreaking narratives: one‚ that the nature of the attack was so brutal that even the surgeon who operated on her had little hope of her survival; and two‚ that she bravely put up a sustained defence at age 16 when confronted by her murderous 20-year-old brother.

Frustratingly for the passage of justice‚ but perhaps fortunately for her‚ she cannot recall the events of January 27‚ 2015‚ at her family’s luxury home at the De Zalze estate in Stellenbosch‚ when the bloody attacks took place.

With such a carnival on the go in the courtroom on Thursday‚ the most notable absence was that of Marli herself. Though she has kept a low profile throughout the trial‚ and has worked hard with her curator to preserve her privacy‚ it was thought she might want to hear first-hand from Judge Siraj Desai what her brother’s sentences would be.

She was‚ however‚ conspicuous by her absence yet loomed large in the minds of many of those present.

This is probably most true for Martin and Teresa’s own siblings‚ who were seated in court the moment the doors opened on Thursday.

The 23-year-old killer arrived wearing his usual attire: a blue suit‚ a neat shirt‚ and a funky tie. Since returning to court on May 21‚ however‚ he has taken on the guise of a criminal. No longer the good-looking youngster with a healthy mop of hair and a clean-shaven face‚ his occasional smiles have given way to a bearded face of grimness and tightly cropped hair.

During the reading of the judgement statement in May‚ Van Breda could be seen struggling to stay awake‚ with some concluding he had been sedated.

On Thursday‚ he was neither falling asleep nor sedated‚ but simply stared ahead as a horde of photographers took their lenses right up to his face. The only flickers of emotion he showed before Desai arrived were several quick smiles to girlfriend Danielle Janse van Rensburg‚ who was seated at the back of the court.

After being sentenced‚ he showed no emotion.

The axe triple murder case that rocked South Africa has come to a close. Henri van Breda was convicted and sentenced to three life terms behind bars plus and additional 15 years for attempted murder and 12 months for obstructing the ends of justice on Thursday June 7 2018. Van Breda's defense team have applied for leave to appeal the conviction and sentence.

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