LISTEN: Operator thought #VanBreda emergency call was a prank

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May 17, 2017
LISTEN: Operator thought #VanBreda emergency call was a prank

Hneri van Breda Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA Pictures

Audio clips of Henri's call requesting ambulance assistance lasted almost 20 minutes, and he allegedly "giggled".




Triple murder accused Henri Van Breda broke down when the audio clip of his call to emergency services was played in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Van Breda is accused of slaughtering his parents and brother with an axe, and the attempted murder of his sister, Marli, at the family’s larney De Zalze Estate home in Stellenbosch in January 2015.

In the almost 20-minute audio clip, one hears a very calm and monotone Henri explaining he needs an ambulance as his family was attacked and that they were bleeding from their heads.

The operator who answered the call, Janine Philander, who was working at the City Of Cape Town’s Emergency Communication Centre, remained adamant she thought the call was a prank.

“He sounded the same throughout the call. I heard what sounded like a giggle and that first made me think it was a prank call,” she said. 

“If he started out shouting it would not have taken that long for a response. He also gave two addresses which made me suspicious, first the De Zalze Estate, which did not pick up on our system, and then another address which was close to where he resided, stating he would stand outside and direct officials, which made me even more suspicious,” Philander said.


Henri van Breda leaving court

During his cross examination, defence lawyer Advocate Pieter Botha, told Philander that it was not a giggle she heard but in fact, his client stuttering.

“You do not know my client. As a child he suffered from severe speech impairment and received extensive speech therapy. He was taught one technique to get over his stuttering and that was to speak slow and calmly. My client was not giggling, he was slightly stuttering and saying please,” Botha told Philander

Presiding judge, Siraj Desai, posed a question to Philander asking just how much prank calls she receives.

“In the last six months, from September 2016- February 2017 I received over 238 350 calls, of those calls, 35 347 were prank calls,” Philander responded.

Later, doctor Lizetter Albertse, who treated Van Breda for wounds incurred during the attack, testified.

She stated the wounds on Van Breda were suspicious of self-inflicted wounds, taking into account the rest of the family had suffered serious and fatal head injuries with an axe during the same attack. She also stated there was no clinical proof that he was under the influence of substances at the time she examined him.


Henri van Breda’s medical report.

The trial resumes on Thursday.

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