Henri van Breda gets three life sentences for family axe murders

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Henri van Breda was handed three life sentences in prison on Thursday for murdering his parents and brother.

He was also sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for attempting to murder his sister and 12 months’ imprisonment for obstructing the course of justice. He was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

Judge Siraj Desai, who presided over the 23-year-old’s lengthy trial at the High Court in Cape Town, handed down the sentences after convicting Van Breda of the 2015 murders of his father Martin, mother Teresa and elder brother Rudi, and the attempted murder of his younger sister, Marli.

Van Breda attacked his wealthy family with an axe and has refused to explain or apologise, maintaining that the perpetrator was a masked intruder.

On Tuesday Desai had asked defence counsel Piet Botha to present any information he had which would allow the judge to show the murderer some mercy.

The advocate said Van Breda’s youth and the fact that he was a first-time offender were the only factors he could suggest, conceding that neither was weighty enough to argue for a lighter sentence than the mandatory minimum of life.

This has led to speculation that an appeal is on the cards.

Van Breda has shown little emotion in the court room, and has spent an estimated R5-million from a family trust on legal fees.

Arguing why a lighter sentence was unjustified, prosecutor Susan Galloway focused on the gruesome and violent nature of the multiple murders and said they had cost the lives of three people who had “very bright futures ahead of them”.

Van Breda will now have decades in prison to ponder his actions on the morning of January 27 2015, when he crept up on his sleeping brother in the bedroom they shared at the family home in Stellenbosch and hacked him to death.

He then used the same axe on his parents and sister. Marli, now 19, survived after emergency surgery but has retrograde amnesia about the attack at 12 Goske Street, De Zalze, and has not taken part in her brother’s trial.

Times Live