Henri Van Breda, right, was found guilty of murdering his parents and the attempted murder of his sister. He also killed his brother.
Henri Van Breda, right, was found guilty of murdering his parents and the attempted murder of his sister. He also killed his brother.

Brutal attack: Blood ‘ran like a waterfall’

IT WAS a ferocious attack that the former Queensland family never saw coming.

Bunkered down in a virtual fortress the Van Breda family had inoculated themselves against South Africa's most violent city.

But it was the enemy within their ranks where danger lived.

In the early hours of January 27, 2015, former Australian schoolboy Henri Van Breda exploded in a murderous rage.

Using a heavy axe he butchered his wealthy parents Martin, 54, and Theresa, 55, and brother Rudi, 22, to death.

His sister Marli was not spared the onslaught, suffering a severed jugular and serious head wounds.

Despite the perilous injuries the Buderim-schooled 16-year-old somehow survived.

The attack was so brutal, according to one paramedic, blood "ran like a waterfall down the stairs".

This morning (Brisbane time) a Cape Town court convicted Henri of the three slayings and attempted murder.

The 23-year-old, who had pleaded not guilty, now faces 25 years in jail.

Marli and Henri van Breda.
Marli and Henri van Breda.

Just what triggered the university student into hacking apart his loved ones is unclear.

Reports have hinted at a possible dispute over the family will.

But any claim to his parents' $16 million fortune, amassed from property investments in Australia and South Africa, is now erased.

A decade ago the Van Bredas left South Africa in the face of growing violence pinning their hopes on a better life in Australia.

In 2012 they moved from Perth to the Sunshine Coast, buying a $2.2 million Buderim mansion on 3.8ha and a million-dollar canal front home at Noosaville.

Marli started at the Matthew Flinders Anglican College and her brothers took up tertiary studies in Melbourne.

Martin and Theresa ran the Australian franchise of international real estate firm Engel & Volkers.

But in 2014 they reluctantly returned to South Africa to work on a business venture operating private schools.

The van Breda family. Henri, left, killed his brother Rudi and parents Terese and Martin, and tried to kill his sister Marli.
The van Breda family. Henri, left, killed his brother Rudi and parents Terese and Martin, and tried to kill his sister Marli.

Martin told them it would only be for two years before a planned return to Buderim.

On return to South Africa he spared no expense on security.

They settled on the exclusive De Zalze golf estate at Stellenbosch, 50km east of Cape Town, with a multimillion-dollar home nestled among vineyards and a golf course.

There they lived under virtual 24 hour guard with armed staff, 8kms of alarmed perimeter fence, security camera and biometric fingerprinting of visitors.

Close friends reported that it could take up to 20 minutes to satisfy the security vetting process to get in.

So it was with some scepticism that Cape Town investigators treated the mildly injured Henri - who took four hours to call police - and his story of an armed intruder.

According to the killer he was on the toilet when he heard sounds, "opened the bathroom door slightly and saw someone in the dark hitting his brother".

He claimed he disarmed the "laughing" black attacker and then threw the axe at him as he pursued him down the stairs.

In a chilling re-enactment in court, Van Breda even swung an axe from above his head across his body to show what he said he saw on the night.

But Judge Siraj Desai dismantled Van Breda's account of a balaclava-clad intruder attacking his family as he watched helplessly.

"After considering all the evidence, the result is inescapable," Desai said.

"That the accused was the perpetrator of the crime is the only reasonable conclusion."

Judge Desai said Van Breda's behaviour after the attacks was "inexplicable".

"The failure to assist his family medically or comfort them in their dying hour - instead he smoked three cigarettes," Judge Desai said.

Henri stood relatively emotionless as the verdict was read.

He will be sentenced next month.



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