Van Breda trial postponed following defence appeal for more evidence and unhappiness over decision to broadcast proceedings


Van Breda trial postponed following defence appeal for more evidence and unhappiness over decision to broadcast proceedings

Philani Nombembe And Aron Hyman | 2017-03-27 17:13:08.0

Triple murder accused Henri van Breda has one fervent wish; to tell his story.

But he does not want cameras in his face when he does. The 22-year-old’s much anticipated trial in the High Court in Cape Town was off to a false start on Monday.

An application brought by Media 24 to live stream the proceedings as well as a request for more evidence by Van Breda’s counsel prompted Judge Siraj Desai to postpone the trial to April 24.

Desai granted the media house permission to film the proceedings in the morning but had to suspend the order after the defence and the prosecution objected. They indicated that they might approach the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal the decision.

“I have consulted with my client and I have prepared a plea‚” said Pieter Botha‚ Van Breda’s counsel. “If there is someone who wants to have his say‚ after he has been in the glare of the media‚ it is my client.”

Botha asked Desai to postpone the trial so that he can obtain the original pictures of the crimes and DNA reports regarding the murder weapon from the state. He said the prosecution has submitted PDF copies to court.

Botha and Hilton Epstein‚ SC‚ representing the state opposed Desai’s order. Desai had allowed the media to take picture inside the courtroom 15 minutes before the court starts and at the end of the proceedings. He also allowed stationery and unmanned video cameras for the live streaming to be mounted in discreet locations in the courtroom.

But he ordered the media not to take pictures of Van Breda’s sister‚ Marli. The prosecution said most state witnesses are reluctant to testify in the glare of cameras. The parties asked Desai to furnish them with reasons for his decision.

“Our instructions my lord are to seek leave to appeal‚” said Botha. “It is impossible to appeal without the court’s reasons.”

Epstein lashed out at Media 24 for “waiting until the 11th hour” to bring the application. He said the prosecution would seek leave to appeal Desai’s decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

But Advocate Barbara Vaughan for Media 24 said: “There is inherent flexibility in your lordship’s order and it can deal with concerns being raised.” Desai granted the postponement but warned that he would not accommodate unnecessary delays.

“This is the first day of what is long and complex trial‚” said Desai. “I appeal to all parties… to [cooperate].”

Van Breda is out on R100 000 bail. He allegedly killed his father‚ mother and brother with an axe at De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate. He is also charged with the attempted murder of his sister Marli‚ now 18.

He will have to divide his time between the high court and the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court where he faces drug charges alongside his girlfriend‚ Danielle Janse van Rensburg. The couple were arrested in Table View last year for possession of dagga and are set to answer to the charges on April 11.

– TMG Digital/The Times

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