A tycoon’s son was today locked up for life in a South African jail for brutally hacking his parents and older brother to death with an axe.
Henri Van Breda appeared impassive as a judge sentenced him to three life sentences for the grisly killings of his parents Martin, 54, and Teresa, 55, and brother Rudi, 22, in Stellenbosch, a scenic town in a wine-growing area near Cape Town, in 2015.
Van Breda, 23, also received a 15-year sentence in the Western Cape High Court for the attempted murder of his sister Marli, then 16, at the time of the attacks.
She suffered severe head injuries in a bloody onslaught that Judge Siraj Desai described as ‘cold-blooded’ murder. Marli now inherits the family’s £12million fortune.
Van Breda also received a one-year sentence for obstructing justice after the court concluded that he inflicted injuries on himself to try to mislead police.
The judge said there had been no explanation for the slayings. Rumours appeared in local papers that Van Breda had a drug addiction and had run up debts and that his parents had cut off his allowance and were trying to make him go into a clinic to deal with his problems. But no such evidence ever came before the court or was brought by Van Breda in mitigation.
It means that he will lose his £6million inheritance from the family estate as he is not allowed under South African law to benefit financially from his crime.
Therefore, the family’s £12m fortune will all go instead to his surviving sister who told investigators her older brother had always treated her as a ‘princess’ but she has no recollection of the attack.
Their father Martin was the managing director of an international real estate company as well as MD of 25 other companies and made his fortune from property and investments.
His fate was sealed when Judge Siraj Desai found him guilty of all five charges last month.
The horrific crime took place in the early hours of the morning at the families’ luxury villa on the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate at Stellenbosch in January 2015 as the van Breda family slept.
The first floor bedrooms were turned into a bloodbath with van Breda inflicting at least 17 brutal axe wounds with the 10lb wood cutting axe on the skulls and necks of his family.
Company director dad Martin died after sustaining at least six axe blows to his head and neck.
His wife Teresa was struck at least three times and older brother Rudi, 22, hit four times.
Younger sister Marli, now 19, suffered at least four vicious head wounds from the axe, but survived.
Van Breda, who was found to have superficial wounds and injuries that the prosecution claimed were self-inflicted, claimed that he desperately managed to fight off the axeman.
He described the man as laughing hysterically as he hacked his family to death and attacked his sister and said he fought a ‘life or death’ struggle with him until he fled the family mansion.
He said he disarmed the axeman and that both intruders then fled the property on the exclusive estate 25 miles away from Cape Town although no evidence of any break-in was ever found.
The super secure estate has perimeter electric fencing all round and security gates and 24-hour dog patrols and CCTV but nothing was stolen and no evidence found of anyone ever breaking in.