The trial continues Wednesday

South African suspect taken to scene of family axe murders

The 22-year-old South African man on trial for murdering his wealthy family with an axe was taken on Tuesday to the home where his parents and brother were killed.

Henri van Breda (C) is alleged to have killed his brother and parents and left his sister struggling with nightmarish injuries in a frenzied axe attack
Henri van Breda (C) is alleged to have killed his brother and parents and left his sister struggling with nightmarish injuries in a frenzied axe attack (AFP)

PRETORIA - The 22-year-old South African man on trial for murdering his wealthy family with an axe was taken on Tuesday to the home where his parents and brother were killed.

Henri van Breda is accused of hacking his parents, Martin and Teresa, and his brother Rudi to death at the house on an exclusive golf estate in Stellenbosch outside Cape Town.

When his trial opened on Monday, van Breda denied the murders and said he had fought off a masked intruder who broke into the four-bedroom family home.

Trial judge Siraj Desai led an inspection of the crime scene accompanied by van Breda, who was wearing a suit and tie, lawyers, court officials and police.

One defence lawyer demonstrated that an exterior fence could easily be climbed over.

Media were not allowed to follow the inspection inside the house.

"We needed to take the judge through what was found and what was where," National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told reporters.

"We wanted to show him and (we) inspected the bedrooms. We also looked at where the bodies were and... where the axe was."

The attack left van Breda's sister Marli, then 16, with near-fatal injuries to her head, neck and throat.

She was in a coma and suffered memory loss, but may yet give evidence at the trial.

The gruesome case attracted widespread interest as police failed to arrest anyone until van Breda handed himself in to authorities.

He walked into a local police station 18 months after the deaths in January 2015, apparently believing he was about to be arrested.

On Monday, he said in a court statement that he had passed out after disarming the attacker, who then fled the house.

There is a continuing legal battle over whether court proceedings can be broadcast live on television.

The trial continues Wednesday.