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Wealthy South African Henri Van Breda found guilty of murdering family with axe

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A South African court has found Henri Van Breda guilty of killing his mother, father and brother in a frenzied axe attack.

Henri van Breda, 23, denied killing his parents and brother and leaving his 16-year-old sister, Marli, in a coma with near-fatal injuries to the head, neck and throat.


He has been convicted of three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, with Judge Siraj Desai calling the verdict "inescapable" in light of the evidence.

(L-R) Henri, Marli, Rudi, Teresa and Martin van Breda
Image: (L-R) Henri, Marli, Rudi, Teresa and Martin van Breda

Van Breda had told the court he had been in the toilet when a masked intruder entered the family home in Stellenbosch, claiming to to have fought with the attacker and been stabbed multiple times before blacking out.

But the prosecutor said his injuries had been self-inflicted - one of what was held to be many inconsistencies in his defence.

Van Breda failed to call emergency services immediately, lawyers argued, instead calling his girlfriend before raising the alarm.

In a tape of the emergency services call heard during the trial, he said his family members were "bleeding from the head" before appearing to giggle briefly.

A mobile phone found at the scene was also used to search for information about axe murders - specifically the case of Christopher Porco, who was jailed for 50 years for the murder and attempted murder of his parents in 2006.

It was added that there was no-one with grudges against the family and that no valuables were stolen from the house. No arguments or other unusual occurrences were recorded on the night of the attack.

Judge Siraj Desai took more than six hours to deliver his summary on a case that has gripped South Africa: the story of a wealthy white man, barely out of his teens, killing his family with a property-derived fortune of some £12.5m.

Marli van Breda was seriously injured in the attack. Pic: Charles Russell
Image: Marli van Breda was seriously injured in the attack. Pic: Charles Russell

While his parents Martin and Theresa and 21-year-old brother Rudi died in the attack, Van Breda's sister Marli miraculously survived.

With injuries to her head and neck that left her in a coma for weeks, Marli could remember nothing of the attack and denied a request to appear as a witness in her brother's defence.

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