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South African man, 22, in court for axe murder of his family

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Henri Van Breda, center, accompanied by attorney Lorinda van Niekerk, front, arrives at the supreme court in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday.

JOHANNESBURG >> A 22-year-old South African man appeared in court Monday on charges of murdering three members of his family with an axe in their luxury home in Cape Town in January 2015.

Henri Van Breda, who handed himself over the police in September last year, is accused of murdering his father Martin, 54, a wealthy businessman, his mother Teresa, 55, and older brother Rudi, 22, in a frenzied early morning axe attack in the heart of South Africa’s western Cape vineyard area.

His younger sister Marli, who was 16 at the time of the attack, was left for dead on a balcony. She survived, despite a cut to her jugular vein and severe head injuries.

Van Breda appeared calm and smiled briefly as he appeared in the packed court room wearing a blue suit.

The case was postponed to April 24 because the defense said it had not received crucial DNA reports about the murder weapon from the state.

Van Breda, who is out on bail, has agreed not to contact witnesses, including his sister. He is also forbidden from being within 500 yards of an airport or a harbor.

According to police, when officers arrived at the crime scene they found Van Breda sitting outside the house, wearing sleeping shorts and white socks stained with the blood of the victims. He was taken in for questioning and later brought back to the house, where investigators found a bloodstained axe and kitchen knife. He was later released into the care of an uncle.

Marli van Breda, who has been living with other members of the extended family, is suffering amnesia and unable to recall the incident.

On the morning of the attack van Breda had phoned his girlfriend at 4 a.m. but only called paramedics three hours later.

A recording of van Breda phoning the emergency services has emerged. In it, he can be heard telling the operator: “My family and me were attacked by a guy with an axe.”

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