Sat Sep 23 00:26:08 CAT 2017

Henri Van Breda running out of funds

By Tanya Farber | 2017-08-21 12:18:59.0

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

Henri van Breda is running out of funds to defend himself against the state.

This is according to Piet Botha‚ his defence counsel‚ who showed deep frustration in the High Court in the Western Cape on Monday as a postponement – to September 11 – was granted.

Everyone’s been waiting for the blood spatter expert – the final witness in the state’s evidence against Van Breda who stands accused of murdering three family members with an axe.

However‚ tensions ran high on Monday as the expert‚ Captain Marius Joubert‚ who also testified in the Oscar Pistorius case‚ called in sick for the second week in a row.

On Monday last week‚ Van Breda’s defence counsel Piet Botha expressed his frustration that Joubert had called in sick and that the rest of that Monday was therefore a waste of time and money.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway‚ however‚ managed to secure three other witnesses who could testify while Joubert would be off for the week.

First chief DNA analyst from the SAPS‚ Lieutenant Colonel Sharlene Otto‚ testified in what turned out to be a gruelling face-off between her and the defence. Then‚ Warrant Officer Lorraine Nel testified‚ describing how the forensic team had adhered to the Standard Operating Procedures.

Under cross-examination‚ she did concede that one swab within an evidence bag had not been sealed properly.

Finally‚ investigating officer Sergeant Marlon Appollis testified in a much-anticipated court session which‚ to the surprise of those present‚ turned out to last all of 40 minutes.

On Monday‚ when it came to light that Joubert had been booked off for yet another week‚ Galloway said that it was in the interests of justice to postpone the case until he could appear.

“I have spoken to his doctor personally this morning and he confirmed that Joubert is indeed not fit to stand trial and needs another week to recover‚”she said‚ adding that it was a high-profile case.

Botha‚ however‚ argued that their own blood spatter expert had already flown to Cape Town from KwaZulu-Natal last week‚ and had now returned this week too for the testimony.

“We cannot recuperate these financial losses‚” Botha told Judge Siraj Desai.

“My client is running out of funds‚ and we also have other matters to attend to. The fact that it is a high-profile case is neither here nor there.”

After an hour’s deliberation‚ Desai returned and said: “This court is now placed in an awkward position. It has already run for over 34 days. The witness to be called is the state’s last witness. The nature of the illness was indicated in chambers and it is not necessary to make this public.

“The state says it is relevant to their case‚ while the defence strenuously objects to a further postponement in this matter. He has present with him an expert who has flown down from KZN with the purposes of cross-examination. Botha and his junior counsel Matthys Combrink are private practitioners and are therefore prejudiced by this situation.

“The fact that the witness is ill and remains so is no fault of the state. The interests of justice must be considered along with the considerations of a fair trial for accused.”

He said the circumstances were “peculiar” but granted a postponement in favour of the state.