The final phase in a gruesome murder case begins tomorrow when Henri van Breda goes on trial accused of hacking his wealthy parents and brother to death with an axe.
Henri van Breda, 21, stands to inherit a share of $16.2 million from the brutal killing of his parents, along with his sister Marli, who was left fighting for her life in the frenzied attack at their luxury family home in Cape Town, two years ago.
On Wednesday, January 27, 2015, Martin van Breda, 54, the managing director of Engel & Völkers in Australia, his wife Teresa, 55, and their son Rudi, 22, were found dead in their home, victims of an axe attack.
Teresa and Martin van Breda. Their 21-year-old son Henri is on trial for their murder
Their daughter 16-year-old Marli was in a critical condition having sustained serious head injuries and youngest son Henri, 20, was slightly injured in the incident with only minor lacerations to show.
According to court papers Henri called his girlfriend at 4:42 am which went unanswered and then searched the internet for local emergency numbers. In an audio recording made to emergency services operators “My … my family and me were attacked … by a guy with an axe.”.
The call was made almost 3 hours later.
Henri van Breda [right], is accused of murdering his parents and brother with an axeHenri van Breda seen walking with his attorney turns himself in to the authorities
The family had recently moved back to South Africa after spending several years living in Australia.
18-year-old Marli, who survived the slashing of her jugular vein, is listed as a state’s witness against her brother, but prosecutors will have to make a final decision to call her to the witness stand. Though her testimony would be crucial, the only other witness to the crime reportedly, remembers nothing about the events of January 2015 that left decimated her family and put her in a coma, news.com.au reports.
Marli and accused brother Henri, have only had supervised contact since the grisly triple murder
The family’s friends and own social media feeds suggested they were a close-knit unit who enjoyed all the exotic travel and outdoor pursuits their immense fortune could buy.
Martin Van Breda had amassed a fortune from property and other investments and after seven years in Perth and on the Sunshine Coast, he, his 55 year-old wife Teresa and three children had moved back to South Africa for a lucrative business deal in the months before the killings.
Court documents detail a furious family row was heard at their home on the exclusive De Zalze golf estate in the hours leading up to the savage attack on Martin, Teresa and their son Rudi. Henry stands back. When forensic officers were dispatched to the home the next morning, they were confronted with a scene of unspeakable violence.
Rudi van Breda [left], allegedly was hacked to death by younger brother Henri [right], in a 2015 axe attack. His parents also died in the hatchet attack
The body of 21 year-old engineering student Rudi was found on a blood-soaked bed next to his father Martin, 54. Both had suffered fatal blows with an axe to their heads.
Teresa van Breda had been cut down on the balcony of the same upstairs room, also dead from a gaping head wound, along with Marli, who was discovered close to death with a gash to her neck.
A large knife from the kitchen downstairs and the murder weapon — a bloodied axe, weighing 4.5kg — was found near their bodies.
Only Henri, then a science undergraduate, escaped the furious onslaught with minor cuts, described in medical reports as “superficial” and “self-inflicted”.
Marli van Breda escaped with her life despite having her jugular vein slashed, however it left her with amnesia of events
He had waited four hours after the 3am killings before raising the alarm, after trying his girlfriend first.
A recording of his 7am call to emergency services was leaked to the press and in it, the then-20-year-old is heard calmly reporting how his family had been attacked with an axe, before suppressing a giggle as he explains how they are all “bleeding from the head”.
In later interviews with detectives, Henri claimed that an axe-wielding stranger had breached the estate’s state-of-the-art security to set upon his family members in their beds while he was in the bathroom.
He described watching as the lone assailant mercilessly killed his family one by one before hurling the murder weapon at his own head, knocking him out cold.
For 18 months after the massacre, the police appeared to be making little or no progress in their murder investigation, triggering speculation about whether anyone would ever face charges for the deaths.