Error-riddled statement indicates Van Breda was led by police‚ says defence counsel
Tanya Farber | 2017-05-29 13:45:37.0
Henri van Breda
Image by: Esa Alexander
The statement triple axe murder accused Henri van Breda signed — in the presence of police on the day his family was murdered — was riddled with “spelling mistakes and language errors”.
This‚ argued his defence counsel Piet Botha‚ was proof that the statement was not a verbatim account of events his client had given to police.
Botha displayed the statement in court to show all the “mistakes” that had been highlighted in a yellow marker‚ saying Van Breda would not have made the errors because he was proficient in English.
Earlier on Monday Botha said the police had “suggested” details and “led” Van Breda in his statement.
But Sergeant Clinton Malan‚ who testified for the state on Monday and who took down the statement‚ said the mistakes arose because English was his (Malan’s) second language‚ but that he had accurately captured Van Breda’s version of events.
Van Breda said he signed the statement because he was exhausted and wanted to leave‚ but asked: “Don’t I need a lawyer for this?”
He claimed that Malan responded with‚ “Why? Are you guilty?”
Malan‚ however‚ denied that this interaction took place.
He also denied Botha’s claims that his client was questioned under duress on an empty stomach while being held in an icy room.
Botha asked if Van Breda had been offered any food as‚ according to the accused‚ the statement had been given to police when he was “cold”‚ “hungry” and “sleep-deprived”.
On Friday‚ when the trial-within-a-trial began‚ to test if Van Breda’s statement to the police was admissible‚ Judge Siraj Desai said that the police “actively starving or sleep-depriving” someone was a “form of torture”‚ and that this was therefore an extreme claim to make.
Desai said that this had not been the case for Van Breda because it wasn’t the police’s fault he was tired and hungry.
“He was in that state when he got there‚” Desai remarked.
The case continues.