Were Henri van Breda’s injuries self-inflicted? Doctor who examined him ‘cannot say’
Tanya Farber And Aron Hyman | 2017-05-17 18:37:55.0
Call centre operator Janine Philander testified that about one in seven of the calls they received were hoaxes‚ and Van Breda’s demeanour matched those of other pranksters. File photo
Image by: Esa Alexander
Henri van Breda had cuts on his forearm‚ facial bruises‚ back injuries and scraped knees when he was examined by a doctor on the morning his parents and brother were found murdered.
But Lizette Albertse told the High Court in Cape Town on Wednesday: “I did not feel they were serious enough to take him to hospital.”
The wounds on his back were “all at the top” and the other injuries “did not look like they were from a fall”‚ she said.
The National Prosecuting Authority statement released at the time of Van Breda’s arrest for the murders of his parents and brother said his wounds were self-inflicted‚ but Albertse said she was not willing to make a definitive comment on that.
Van Breda’s defence counsel‚ Piet Botha‚ held up a knife like the one found on the crime scene‚ and referred to Van Breda’s plea statement‚ in which he described a fight with the intruder he says is responsible for the murders.
Botha demonstrated on himself‚ proposing that the intruder might have been slashing at Van Breda’s forearm as Van Breda held his wrist.
“Is that an impossible scenario?” Botha asked Albertse. “I have not seen anything in my research which states that it is completely impossible‚ but I can say that it is highly improbable‚” she replied.
Her testimony came after Van Breda wept while listening to a recording of the call he made to emergency services on the morning of January 27‚ 2015.
The subsequent heated debate in court rested on these questions: Was it a sob or a giggle he let out while on the phone? And why was he so calm when his family had been axed to death?
Call centre operator Janine Philander testified that she was convinced Van Breda’s call was a prank because he was “hesitant”‚ “cool as a cucumber”‚ “calmly gave details of the attack”‚ and set the tone early in the conversation with “a giggle”.
She said about one in seven of the calls they received were hoaxes‚ and Van Breda’s demeanour matched those of other pranksters.
Botha argued that those were merely her interpretations‚ and claimed the “giggle” was a stuttered form of the word “please” in one instance‚ and a sob in the other.
Philander said: “Normally callers who phone in with this type of emergency set the tone. There was no interruption‚ no comeback‚ no getting agitated‚ and he didn’t stop me at any time.
“He never brought up again in any of the conversations that his whole family had been attacked.”