“It would require the expertise of a character from ‘Oceans 11’ to get onto the estate.”
This is how Judge Siraj Desai described De Zalze‚ in Stellenbosch‚ a gated community where parents Teresa and Martin van Breda‚ and their son Rudi‚ were murdered with an axe in January 2015‚ and daughter Marli was left fighting for her life.
The other surviving child‚ Henri van Breda‚ 23‚ is on trial for the murders and on Tuesday‚ in the High Court in Cape Town‚ his defence began presenting its closing arguments.
Advocate Piet Botha said the state’s case was of “such poor quality” that it “could not be relied upon” and argued that someone could have dug under the electric fence to gain access to the estate.
When Desai responded that this was not a reasonable argument‚ Botha became so excitable that Desai asked him to “calm down”‚ adding: “The volume doesn’t increase the efficacy of your argument.”
Botha joked that he had been made aware earlier in the trial of his “booming voice” and had tried to curb it‚ blamed the lapse on his “passion for the case”.
A main thrust of Botha’s argument was that the only witness to the attacks was neighbour Stephani Opt’hof‚ who testified to having heard males involved in a violent argument at the Van Breda home on the evening of the murders.
According to Botha‚ she was a “biased” witness who had been “adamant” that she heard males arguing “unabated” for two hours‚ but that in the time between the murders and the trial she had been swayed by social media.
Botha said Opt’hof told police on the morning of the murders that she had heard males arguing‚ but that only on the witness stand did she say it went on for two hours.
Desai asked: “Why would a neighbour that you don’t even know have a vested interest in being biased and testifying against you in a murder trial?”
Botha said “if it was so disturbing to her‚ why didn’t she call security?” But Desai said it was common in middle-class family settings that neighbours do not call police or security if they hear an altercation at someone’s home.
Botha also criticised the state laboratory that tested DNA samples by emphasising that it was not accredited and could not be relied upon.
But‚ said Desai‚ the defence could have “smashed the state’s case to smithereens” if it had elected to test the samples itself in a bid to disprove the findings of the state‚ but had elected not to do so.
The case continues.
By: Tanya Farber
Source: TMG Digital.