Another forensic pathologist testifies Henri’s wounds were self-inflicted

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May 24, 2017
Another forensic pathologist testifies Henri’s wounds were self-inflicted

Professor Johan Dempers testified in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday Photo / Catherine Rice

A professor of medicine and forensic pathology has testified that injuries sustained by Henri van Breda in the early hours of January 27, 2015 were most likely self-inflicted.

Johan Dempers drew up his report in August 2015 after analysing photographs of Henri van Breda’s wounds.

His evidence on Wednesday echoed the evidence of Dr Marianne Tiemensma who also testified that the wounds were self-inflicted and differed significantly from the wounds suffered by the rest of his family.

Van Breda, 22, is on trial for the axe murders of his father, mother and brother at their luxury home in the security estate, de Zalze, in Stellenbosch. His sister Marli, who was 16 years old at the time, survived the attack.

Dempers told the Western Cape High Court that in cases where more than one family member is murdered, there is “little discernment” in the wounds between the individuals.

He testified that he found it hard to believe van Breda’s claims that his assailant intended to cause grievous bodily harm.

Van Breda did not have defence wounds, unlike his mother Teresa whose defensive wounds on her fingers did not correspond with the accused.

The father, Martin, and brother, Rudi, had also sustained similar blows to the head causing skull fractures, Dempers told the court.

Senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway pointed out that Van Breda is right handed which Dempers confirmed would have made it easier to inflict the wounds on the left side of his body.


WOUNDED: Henri van Breda’s cuts different from family members’,  says Dr Marianne Tiemensma

Dempers said as people fight they move around: “If in a life and death situation you will swing the axe wildly”, yet van Breda had not been wounded in any significant way.

He also dismissed Van Breda’s claim that the attacker had let go of the knife after stabbing him and he had then pulled it out of his side: “I find it difficult to believe an attacker would let go of a weapon mid altercation”.

He further testified that Van Breda’s stab wound was “superficial” and had a depth of 1cm.

He said he had not made a “thumbsuck decision”, but had looked at a number of factors: “You look at the wounding itself, without the background information, then you look at the defects against the background of what happened, and then thirdly you look at the scene itself and the wounds of the others”.

He said just looking at the wounds he became suspicious as they were “superficial scratches” and some were parallel. He believed the scratches on van Breda’s arms and chest were self inflicted as well as a stab wound in his abdomen.

“The victim would have had to stand almost perfectly still for someone else to have inflicted that”.

He conceded under cross examination that some of his wounds may not have been self-inflicted, such as his back and head injuries: “There are other possibilities for some of them”.

Dempers also testified that he had experimented on a piece of pork to see if the knife could have gotten stuck in van Breda’s abdomen, and found that this was possible as it had lodged there for a few seconds before falling out. He said pork skin was, however, significantly thicker than human skin.

African News Agency

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