Detective rules out ‘balaclava gang’ as suspects in Van Breda murders

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The balaclava-wearing assailant who Marli claims attacked his family does not fit the modus operandi of the “balaclava gang” who stalked the area.

Captain Nicholas Stein.
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

This is according to Stellenbosch detective Captain Nicholas Stein‚ one of the lead investigators in a team set up to catch the gang‚ believed to be connected to almost 60 break-ins at “isolated houses”.

Stein‚ who took the stand on Thursday as a state witness in Vn Breda’s triple murder trial‚ told the court he was called to the scene at De Zalze in Stellenbosch by investigators.

This was after Van Breda told them the attacker who killed his parents and brother‚ and critically injured his sister Marli‚ wore gloves and a balaclava.

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Stein said the scene did not match the balaclava gang’s modus operandi because the house was “in a central area in the estate” and because there were no signs of forced entry and nothing seemed to be stolen.

“We looked for signs of forced entry and we found nothing. There was no sign that anyone got in‚” said Stein.

Asked by state advocate Susan Galloway whether there were signs that someone escaped over the wall‚ he said there were no bloodstains or boot marks to indicate that.

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“The person who attacked them would have had blood on his hands. I couldn’t see any sign of markings like that on the wall‚” he said.

The balaclava gang would often drink beer from the fridges of targeted houses‚ he said‚ leaving DNA evidence that later helped police to catch them.

But the De Zalze attacker had not helped himself to the contents of the liquor rack next to the fridge.

Questioned by Van Breda’s advocate‚ Piet Botha‚ about blood droplets on the wall between the Van Breda house and its neighbour‚ Stein said it was possible the droplets could have come from “an object”.

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According to Botha‚ a blood splatter analyst – who is still to testify as a state witness – had said he could not rule out the attacker running past with the murder weapon‚ scattering blood as he went.

Stein said Henri was “quiet and calm” when he spoke to him at the crime scene‚ and told the court that in his 28 years of policing experience he had observed that “most people will show emotions” after an attack or a housebreaking.

Judge Siraj Desai adjourned the case until Monday.

Tiso Black Star Group/TimesLIVE/Aron Hyman

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