Unprovoked violence is par for the course in SA‚ says Van Breda's lawyer

Henri van Breda in court. Picture Credit: Esa Alexander
Henri van Breda in court. Picture Credit: Esa Alexander

Gratuitous violence is part and parcel of life in South Africa‚ Henri van Breda’s advocate told the High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.

In his closing argument in the marathon triple axe-murder trial‚ Piet Botha compared the murders of Martin‚ Teresa and Rudi van Breda in Stellenbosch three years ago with the recent stabbing of a hiker in Kalk Bay and an attack on a sleeping man in Stellenbosch.

This came after Judge Siraj Desai‚ presiding over 23-year-old Van Breda’s trial‚ questioned why an assailant from outside the family would attack them in such a brutal manner.

Desai described the murders of Van Breda’s parents and brother‚ and the life-threatening assault on his sister Marli‚ as the result of a “frenzy”‚ adding: “It’s almost as if the person really wanted to attack them out of anger rather than fortuitously killing people during a botched robbery. The person that killed them did so with definite intent.”

Botha disagreed‚ saying: “Crimes in our country‚ including house invasions‚ go hand-in-hand with gratuitous violence.” This was proven by recent fatal stabbings in Kalk Bay and Stellenbosch. “It is the country we are living in‚” said Botha‚ adding that if one wondered why an outsider would wipe out the Van Bredas out in such a brutal manner‚ one should also ask why Henri would act in that manner.

Botha also disagreed with Desai’s comment earlier in the week that it seemed as if the assailant knew the layout of the Van Breda family home at De Zalze.

He said the ground-floor was open plan‚ and it would take someone entering through the kitchen only a few seconds to see all the downstairs areas.

“There is nothing about my client’s version that necessitates the assailant having to know the layout of house‚” he said.

Botha described a scenario of thieves coming onto the estate looking for a house with “easy access”.

He added: “Maybe one stays downstairs looking in cupboards and drawers while the other goes upstairs. The first bedroom he comes across is at the top of the stairs on the left.

“There he finds Rudi sleeping. Rudi wakes up so he attacks him. Henri then starts calling for help‚ Martin comes in‚ and the attacker kills Martin.”

But Desai responded: “How likely is it that nobody makes a noise during this? Nobody shouts for help? The attackers don’t call to each other? They don’t take anything? And then they commit an unprecedented mass murder on three people‚ and attempt to kill a fourth?”

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