The van Breda family. Father Martin, wife Teresa and son Rudi have been killed in an apparent axe attack at their South African home. Daughter Marli is now in a critical condition.
The van Breda family. Father Martin, wife Teresa and son Rudi have been killed in an apparent axe attack at their South African home. Daughter Marli is now in a critical condition. Facebook

Van Breda son pleads not guilty to family's axe murder

A FORMER Australian schoolboy who previously lived in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast, has pleaded not guilty to slaughtering his wealthy parents and brother in an axe attack in the South African metropolis of Cape Town.

The trial opened on Monday, and has captivated the international press after Henri van Breda, 22, handed himself into police.

Police allege Van Breda killed his brother Rudi, parents Martin and Teresa and left his sister Marli on the verge of death after attack her head, neck and throat.

The family's luxury home was the scene of the massacre, which made worldwide headlines on January 27, 2015.
 

Police vehicle exits the upmarket De Zalze housing estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where three members of the van Breda family were killed, and two injured.
Police vehicle exits the upmarket De Zalze housing estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where three members of the van Breda family were killed, and two injured.

Van Breda told the Western Cape High Court he was "not guilty" to three counts of murder, and one count of attempted murder.

Van Breda's lawyer told the court a masked intruder was responsible for the killings, saying the man entered the fortified home and attacked the family with an axe in the early hours of that morning.

"I shouted for help, shouting to attract attention," Van Breda told the court.

"My father was struck as he lunged towards the attack. He was hit a number of times... I also recall the attacker was laughing".
 

South African murder accused Henri van Breda arrives at the high court in the city of Cape Town, South Africa in 2016
South African murder accused Henri van Breda arrives at the high court in the city of Cape Town, South Africa in 2016 AP Photo / Schalk van Zuydam

Van Breda said he could "make out the silhouette of somebody" attacking his brother.

The van Breda family opened and ran Engel and Volkers in Mooloolaba in 2009, but later closed it as the Global Financial Crisis began to reach Australian shores.

The family kept their home in Buderim when they returned to South Africa. It was listed for sale last month.

Both Rudi - a 21-year-old student -- and their father Martin, 54, were found on a bloodied bed after being struck with an axe.

Van Breda's mother was found with a gaping head wound on a bedroom balcony.

His sister, then 16, was in a coma following the attack, but may give evidence despite suffering some memory loss.
 

Marli van Breda is seriously injured in an incident which killed her dad Martin, mum Teresa and brother Rudi. Photo: Faceboook
Marli van Breda is seriously injured in an incident which killed her dad Martin, mum Teresa and brother Rudi. Photo: Faceboook Contributed

Van Breda himself suffered some minor bruises and scratches, which some experts suggest may have been self inflicted.

The 22-year-old delivered himself to police 18 months after the bloodshed.

Van Breda said in a statement that he had passed out after disarming his family's killer.

A police officer who attended the scene told the court there were no signs of forced entry.

The trial continues.



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