CAPE TOWN, September 18 – The State’s final witness, bloodstain analyst Captain Marius Joubert, told the Western Cape High Court on Monday that there were no signs of a second axe being used on Marli Van Breda on the night her brother and parents were murdered in their family home in the security estate de Zalze in Stellenbosch.
He testified that a fleeing intruder would have left a trail of drip marks from the bloodied object, but there were no signs of blood to support that theory.
Marli, who was 16-years-old at the time of the January 2015 attacks, was hit eight times with an axe. The State believes it was the same axe used to murder her parents and brother. But, her brother 22-year-old Henri van Breda, who is on trial for the murders claims an intruder, possibly more than one, was behind the attacks.
None of Marli’s blood was found on the axe used to kill parents Teresa and Martin, and brother Rudi. Joubert said the fact that none of her blood was found on the murder weapon was inexplicable. Furthermore, her blood was not found on Henri’s socks or shorts, unlike the blood from the other family members.
Earlier, evidence in the trial also showed that Henri, Rudi and Teresa’s DNA were found in the shower, but defence advocate Piet Botha told the court his client would not have had enough time to clean himself and move his brother’s body without stepping in blood. No blood was found on the bottom of Henri’s socks.
Joubert testified last week that bloodstains on the crime scene indicated that Rudi had been moved from his bed where he had been attacked and shoved around, possibly because of anger the attacker was directing at his victim.
On Monday, Joubert conceded that this was merely his opinion as he was not a behaviour analyst.
He told the court that Marli was facing her attacker but that he could not exclude the possibility that her attacker came from outside the room Henri shared with his brother Rudi. This would fit in with Henri’s version that he was not near his sister when she was attacked.
Senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway told the court that Marli had indicated she did not want to be a witness for the defence. She has retrograde amnesia and therefore has no recollection of the events of that night. Galloway confirmed that she still cannot remember what happened.
The case was adjourned to Thursday.
The ripple effect of a taxi strike in Cape Town reached the Western Cape High Court on Monday as proceedings in the trial of alleged axe murderer Henri van Breda could not get underway.
The strike, organised by the Democratic Taxi Workers Union of South Africa, caused widespread chaos on the roads, with buses also affected.
The final state witness, blood spatter expert Captain Marius Joubert, could not get to court in time and proceedings were postponed until late morning.
Joubert is still under cross-examination in the case against 22-year-old Henri Van Breda who faces charges of murder, attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.
He allegedly murdered his mother, father and brother, and seriously injured his sister at their family home in the security estate de Zalze in Stellenbosch in January 2015.
Henri has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, claiming that a laughing, axe-wielding intruder, wearing a balaclava and also armed with a knife, was behind the brutal attacks.
Last week, Joubert testified that the attacker may have dragged Rudi, Henri’s brother, and shoved his body around, an indication of anger towards him.
Joubert also testified that of the 67 bloodstains found on the front of Van Breda’s shorts, DNA results showed that 35 were from his brother Rudi, five were from his father Martin, and there was a mixture of stains that included his mother Teresa’s DNA.
He told the court that these stains were probably the result of contact with a bloodstained object.
Joubert also analysed a pair of white socks worn by Henri which had “multiple blood spatter stains”.
He said force had been applied to the source, travelled through the air and landing on the socks.
He said 17 blood cuttings were taken from the socks; nine samples came from Rudi, one from Martin, one from Teresa and two from Henri.
A blue T-shirt found half under Henri’s bed was also taken for analysis. Joubert told the court that from 12 cuttings, five were profiled. The blood came from Rudi.
In the bedroom Henri shared with Rudi, the blood spatter pattern was in directional angles, suggesting they were “caused by force” to Rudi while he was still in bed.
Joubert said blood on the shower floor belonged to Henri, Rudi and Teresa which could have been an indication of an attempt to wash away blood.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Piet Botha highlighted the fact that Marli’s blood had not been found on the axe used in the killings of her parents and brother. Furthermore, no trace of her blood was found on his client’s shorts or socks.
This would support Henri’s version that he was not near his sister Marli when she was attacked, as well as the possibility that a second axe and more than one intruder was behind the attack.
Botha said despite eight swabs taken from the axe – four from the handle and four from the blade – “not a single drop of Marli’s blood was found”.
Teresa, Martin and Rudi’s DNA were all found on the axe, as well as on Henri’s shorts and socks.
Cross-examination of Joubert is likely to wrap up today. The defence will then call their first witness.