Government has welcomed the three life sentences handed down to axe murderer Henri van Breda by Judge Siraj Desai in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
“Government is pleased with the sentences. As government we feel we have proven that crime does not pay,” Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director-General Phumla Williams told SAnews.
She said government is pleased that justice has been served in this case. “Henri Van Breda’s sentencing serves as a deterrent to others who think that violence in the family will be allowed in South Africa,” Williams said.
Van Breda has been sentenced to three life sentences for the murder of three of his family members, 15 years for attempted murder of his sister, and one year for obstructing the course of justice. The sentences will run concurrently.
“Our country is governed by rules and laws and violence will not be tolerated. At this time, our thoughts are with Marli, the only person who survived his attack,” Williams said.
She said the officers who investigated this case have done a sterling job.
“This case highlights the importance of a strengthened family unit and the role that society plays in shaping the behaviour and actions of the youth,” Williams said.
She said government will not allow such incidents to prevail in the country as the Constitution provides for the right to life.
The 23-year-old Henri van Breda was found guilty of killing his parents and older brother and severely injuring his younger sister with an axe in 2015.
Judge Desai began proceedings this morning by saying: "Despite the horrific events underpinning your convictions, Mr Breda, the sentences I intend imposing must be, and are, the product of sober, unemotional and considered deliberation..."
The Judge said as a 20-year-old at the time of the murder, Van Breda "didn't have maturity, understanding and life experience of an older person. You were at the cusp of entering adulthood. Long term imprisonment will deny you opportunity and privilege of growing old in an open society".
Before handing down the sentence, Desai described the attacks as graphic and gruesome. He further detailed the fatal injuries sustained by Van Breda's father, mother, and brother, as well as the injuries sustained by his sister, Marli.
The Judge said these attacks display a high level of innate cruelty.
Desai said Van Breda, who he described as a “cold-blooded killer”, displayed no remorse, adding that there has still been no explanation for his actions.
"Although you are relatively young, and with no previous convictions, your conduct warrants the severest penalty,” Judge Desai said.
“Count 1 - life, Count 2 - life, Count 3 - life, Count 4 - 15 years, and Count 5 - 12 months imprisonment,” Judge Desai said while handing down the sentence.
Count 1 is for the murder of Rudi van Breda (life sentence), Count 2 is for the murder of Martin van Breda (life sentence), Count 3 is for the murder of Teresa van Breda (life sentence), Count 4 is for the attempted murder of Marli van Breda (15 year sentence) and Count 5 is for obstructing the course of justice (12 months imprisonment).
On June 27‚ Van Breda’s advocate Piet Botha will hear whether his client has leave to appeal against his conviction and sentences. – SAnews.gov.za