Three life sentences for dispassionate triple axe murderer Henri van Breda

Henri van Breda, who was recently found guilty of murdering his parents and brother has been sentenced by the Western Cape High Court to three life sentences. For the attempted murder of his sister, Judge Siraj Desai sentenced him to 15 years in prison and for the charge of defeating the ends of justice, he was sentenced to 12 months.

The charge of defeating the ends of justice constituted inflicting wounds on himself, tampering with the crime scene and pinning the blame for the 2015 attack on his family, on two mystery intruders.

During sentencing Judge Desai referred to the “unbridled violence directed at his unarmed and defenseless family” and described the murders as cold blooded.

Van Breda listened to the judge sentencing him as dispassionately as he had during the entire trial.

After the vicious attack on his family, it took Van Breda, 20 years old at the time, four hours to call emergency services while his severely injured sister was fighting for her life. His excuse was that he couldn’t remember the number and that he had blacked out.

A recording of the shocking emergency services call, during which a calm Van Breda was giggling at times, went viral.

Watch: Van Breda’s chilling emergency call.

The attack on his family, during which they sustained at least 17 axe wounds to their heads and necks, took place in the early hours of 20 January 2015 at the family’s luxury home on the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate near Stellenbosch.

Van Breda’s multi-millionaire father Martin, 54, was struck at least six times, his mother Teresa, 55, three times and his brother Rudi, 22, at least four times. The attack on Rudi was the most brutal according to forensic pathologists. His younger sister Marli, then 16, had at least four head wounds. Her jugular artery was slashed, but she miraculously survived. She reportedly suffers from retrograde amnesia and remembers nothing of the attack.

Obstructing the course of justice

Van Breda’s version of events was that the family had been attacked by two axe wielding black men in balaclavas and that he had single handedly fought off one of them.

He said he had watched through a gap in a bathroom door how one of the men, laughing hysterically, hacked his older brother and parents to death. He claimed that after the killer attacked his sister he confronted him and fought a “life or death” battle with him during which he suffered several light injuries.

The secure estate has CCTV cameras and 24-hour dog patrols. No trace of intruders was ever found. There was no sign of forced entry, nothing was stolen and the family’s dog Sasha, that barks at people she knows, never made a sound.

Reports of drug addiction

Veteran crime reporter Julian Jansen writes in The De Zalze Murders: The Story Behind the Brutal Axe Attack, that Van Breda’s alleged drug use caused discord in the family and troubled his father Martin enough to confront and punish his son.

Quoting family friends, Jansen says Martin had high expectations of his children and was irked that his son was loafing around the house after dropping out of university in Australia, where he was allegedly nicknamed “Druggie” because of his clashes with authorities.

At some point Martin cut off his son’s allowance, writes Jansen. This was allegedly not well received by Van Breda, who already felt alienated by his father’s favouritism towards his elder brother, Rudi, who was attacked first.

It was reported in local papers that Van Breda had spent time at an upmarket drug rehabilitation centre in Cape Town a year before the murders.

The Sunday Times reported that a drug runner identified Van Breda from a photograph and said he had been a regular customer. It was alleged that he used methamphetamine (tik or crystal meth), which has been linked to aggression and violence.

Possible mental health issues

The question of whether Van Breda is a psychopath, has been raised.

During the 68-day trial he remained blood curdlingly emotionless, casually describing the details of his family dying, going so far as to re-enact the attack by the alleged mysterious laughing intruder.

Watch: Henri van Breda enacts the fictitious battle between him and the alleged attacker.

When telling the court about the “gurgling and twitching” of his brother Rudi dying, he showed no emotion.

State Prosecutor Susan Galloway described Van Breda’s testimony as ‘well rehearsed’ and ‘far fetched’ while he blamed the carnage at his home on a laughing, balaclava-clad black intruder.

The Van Breda millions

The Van Bredas lived in Perth for a number of years before moving back to SA in 2014.

Martin van Breda had interests in at least 25 companies in mainly the education and property sector. He owned the Australian subsidiary of the international property group Engel & Völkers.

He reportedly founded Netstar which he sold to Altech, and developed Woodhill College, a private school in Pretoria, before the JSE-listed Curro Holdings bought it from him for R185 million in 2011.

Other business interests reportedly included directorships of Edugro Holdings and Meridian colleges in Polokwane, Pretoria and Rustenburg.

Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison

Van Breda is facing a terrifying life in the notorious Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison where he will probably be a target. Most new arrivals at the jail can reportedly expect violent attacks and gang rapes.

The prison, reportedly run by gangs, was built for 4 336 men, but more than 7 000 dangerous criminals are incarcerated there.

Watch: The moment Henri van Breda is found guilty of all charges.

Marli van Breda inherits everything

Under South African law a person is not able to benefit financially from crime so Marli van Breda will most likely inherit the family fortune of about R200 million.

During sentencing State Prosecutor Galloway said the fact that Marli survived despite having her jugular vein slashed along with her other injuries was not indicative of a lesser attack, but rather a miracle.

  AUTHOR
Caxton Central

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