Van Breda statement to police sticks as evidence
Tanya Farber | 2017-06-01 11:00:18.0
Henri van Breda at the High Court in Cape Town.
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER
Henri van Breda’s defence tried to get his statement made to police on the day his family was axed to death scratched from the record as evidence.
But on Thursday Judge Siraj Desai ruled that this would not happen.
Desai said: “I considered very carefully the arguments advanced by the respective counsels. The document is admitted in evidence.”
The reasons for the ruling‚ however‚ will only be given at the close of the main trial‚ which is expected to still go on for some time.
“The reasons will be given at the end of the trial‚” said Desai.
Van Breda’s legal counsel‚ Piet Botha‚ had argued that his client was pinned as a suspect right from the beginning but was then denied his right to silence or legal representation.
Susan Galloway‚ for the state‚ had summed up her case for the trial-within-a-trial on Tuesday as follows: “When he gave his statement‚ he was perceived as the only surviving member of the Van Breda family who was able to give an account of what happened.”
She said that at that stage‚ “there was no incriminating evidence”‚ and that Van Breda was “calm and was able to give an account of what happened.”
He was “not a suspect” when he made the statement and was “read an electronic version of it and was satisfied”.
She said that despite grammatical errors raised in court by the defence‚ the “content remains undisputed” and that it is “immaterial” if he had a t-shirt on or not when he gave the statement.
She said that “only arrested‚ detained or accused persons” are made aware of the constitutional rights to which Botha was referring (right to remain silent and to legal representation).
According to Botha‚ Van Breda was treated in such a way that made it clear he was a suspect‚ and that he was therefore entitled to those rights.
“He should have been informed he had rights. There is no onus on the accused to prove that his rights have been contravened. The onus is on the state to prove that they weren’t‚” he said.
Botha had clarified: “I am not suggesting even remotely that he was tortured or deprived of sleep and food. But there is a difference between taking a person in pants and a shirt to a doctor and a police station‚ and taking them in pants only.”
The main trial continues.