Sat Sep 23 00:25:45 SAST 2017

Van Breda's counsel accused of stalling the trial

By Tanya Farber | 2017-08-11 13:07:24.0

Henri van Breda at the start of Day 6 of his murder trial. Picture Credit: Esa Alexander

“Don’t confuse the court with all kinds of calculations. Complicated mathematics does not change the facts‚” said the chief DNA analyst at day 31 of the Henri van Breda axe murder trial.

The session had the defence diving deep into the world of mathematics.

Earlier in the week‚ it came to light in court that the DNA of his mother Teresa and his brother Rudi were found on nail scrapings taken from the accused‚ and in the blood stains on his shorts.

Van Breda stands accused of murdering his mother‚ father‚ and attempting to murder his younger sister Marli.

Matthys Combrink has spent the week attempting to discredit the forensic laboratory where the DNA testing in the case was done.

Combrink read out mathematical calculations he said proved that not enough DNA was used for the testing.

However‚ chief DNA analyst from SAPS‚ Lieutenant Colonel Sharlene Otto‚ said that in all 216 samples that were tested‚ enough DNA was present to get an accurate result.

She said the Standard Operating Procedures which Combrink claimed were violated were being misrepresented.

Of the 216 samples‚ most were done with “good quality DNA which we did not struggle to get”‚ said Otto‚ and 39 had been loaded with “less than optimal” amounts of DNA. However‚ “less than optimal” did not mean they were invalid‚ and on the contrary‚ “all results obtained were reliable and valid.”

She said that the SOPs stated a recommended amount as a guideline for what was optimal‚ but did not mean anything that fell short of that would not give a result.

“Our systems are normalised that way‚” she said.

Combrink also accused the forensic analysts of obtaining a result that they wanted.

Otto put on record that she would not accept that accusation.

“There was a family of five victims attacked in their family home with an axe. You expect to find blood on the scene – and so it was. Nobody before me in the process even knows what they are dealing with. They cannot change it. The DNA is already in there. All we had to do was get a proper result.”

The defence has received 3‚000 pages documenting the process‚ and today requested further paperwork.

But prosecutor Susan Galloway objected‚ saying that the ongoing demand for more documentation was stalling procedures and was becoming endless.

Judge Siraj Desai told Combrink: “This has to be finite at some point. Crime is rampant in this country‚ and this court also has to hear other cases.”

Combrink also asked other questions regarding the process and read out several of the SOPs‚ saying that Otto only quoted the SOPs when it suited her.

She responded that the SOPs had to be interpreted in conjunction with one another‚ and that one couldn’t isolate one and then claim it was violated.

Said Desai: “The witness has repeatedly stated that she cannot respond to general questions.”

The case continues.

 

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