On Monday, it was revealed in the Western Cape High Court that Van Breda was admitted to the private Mediclinic Constantiaberg last week, where doctors found he suffered from juvenile myoclonic epilepsy following a series of medical tests.
Defence lawyer Piet Botha told the court that his 23-year-old client had a seizure last Wednesday and was hospitalised on Thursday, and examined by neurologist Dr James Butler.
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is an inherited genetic syndrome.
According to Wikipedia, epileptic episodes are characterised by involuntary muscle twitching that do not usually result in the person falling, “but rather dropping objects”.
Onset of the symptoms is usually between age 10 and 16, but can manifest in some patients in their 20s.
The defence was due to call a psychologist on Monday, but proceedings were postponed to give her time to amend her report if she deemed it necessary, as she has not yet seen the neurologist’s report.
Judge Siraj Desai said ethical issues may arise, however, as the neurologist had been a potential State witness whom they did not call.
But Botha urged the court to call Dr Butler if the defence’s request is turned down, as the doctor’s testimony is relevant to Van Breda’s 2 hours 40 minutes time lapse on the night of the axe massacre.
Van Breda has pleaded not guilty to murdering his father Martin, brother Rudi and mother Teresa. His sister Marli, who was 16 at the time of the January 2015 attacks, survived but suffered severe head injuries and has retrograde amnesia.
Van Breda claims that an intruder, armed with an axe and knife, and wearing dark clothing, a balaclava and gloves was behind the attacks.
He said in his plea explanation that while chasing the attacker, he lost his footing and fell down the stairs.
After the attacker fled, and trying to phone his girlfriend without success, Van Breda said he went up the stairs, where he could hear his brother Rudi in the bedroom.
On the landing towards the top, he saw Marli moving, while his mother was not moving.
He stated: “I then lost consciousness. I am unsure whether this was due to shock or to the injuries that I sustained when I fell down the stairs, or a combination of both.”
He also did not go to his family members when he regained consciousness, as he didn’t think he could help them.
Instead, he smoked three cigarettes at the kitchen counter “to stay calm” while on the phone to emergency services.
The psychologist, who will take the stand today, is expected to explain his inaction to the court.