14 November 2017

South Africa: 'I Want to Get On With My Life', Judge Says After Another Postponement in Van Breda Trial

Photo: Business and Human Rights Resource Centre
Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, South Africa.

Judge Siraj Desai on Tuesday warned that he wanted the Henri van Breda murder trial completed by the end of November, after the defence requested a two-week adjournment to finalise their last two witnesses.

"I want to get on with my life," Desai told defence advocate Pieter Botha, who asked that the matter stand down until November 27 for reports and consultations with his last two experts.

Neurologist Dr James Butler is expected to testify on the two hours and 40 minutes during which Van Breda claimed to have passed out.

Butler, over the weekend, diagnosed the triple murder accused with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, which the State believes could explain this.

Psychologist Elspeth Burke had been expected to take the stand on Tuesday to testify on Van Breda's calm demeanour when he was on the phone with emergency call centre operator Janine Philander.

She was also expected to give her opinion on whether Van Breda's behaviour was typical in the situation in which he claimed to have found himself.

The decision to call the psychologist came after a "distinct line of questioning" during cross examination from the State and Desai about the accused's failure to come to the aid of his family.

During his testimony, Van Breda told the court that he had been frustrated during the extended call, but thought he needed to stay calm so as not to "confuse communication", and added that he had been trying not to show his agitation.

Prosecutor Susan Galloway also questioned why he had not tried to assist his loved ones after the horror attack, or why he had not gone to sit with them while he waited for help.

He said he "supposed [he] could have", but didn't think anyone except a medical professional would be able to help.

Burke said she first wished to see Butler's report, as it may impact on part of her evidence.

Desai appeared unimpressed with the two-week postponement, saying he had hoped to finish the trial this week.

Botha said the defence would finish with both witnesses within a day, at most two, including cross-examination.

The 23-year-old pleaded not guilty to axing his parents - Teresa and Martin - and brother Rudi to death, seriously injuring his sister, Marli, and defeating the ends of justice.

Source: News24

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