25 Apr 2017

South Africa: Man denies axe-murdering family

6:11 pm on 25 April 2017

A man accused of killing his parents and older brother in a frenzied axe attack in Stellenbosh in South Africa has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Henri van Breda (C) arrives with his lawyer Lorinda van Niekerk (L) at the Western Cape High Court for the start of his trial for allegedly killing his two parents, brother, and wounding his sister, with an axe, in their luxury home, on March 27, 2016, in Cape Town.

Henri van Breda arrives with his lawyer Lorinda van Niekerk in South Africa. Photo: AFP

Henri van Breda, 21, is also charged with the attempted murder of his sister who survived with severe head injuries.

There has been international interest in the story as the family are believed to be worth an estimated $US16m.

Mr Van Breda said in a statement that the murders were carried out by an axe-wielding intruder.

No arrests were made for 18 months until the accused handed himself in in June 2016.

Mr Van Breda's sister Marli was expected to be a key witness during the trial in Cape Town.

However, she suffers from amnesia and was only 16 at the time of the attack.

In a statement read out by his lawyer, Mr Van Breda said he was in a toilet when he saw a man wielding an axe attacking his brother Rudi in bed.

His father, who then burst in, "trying to tackle the attacker" was also struck by the alleged intruder, he said.

"I also recall the attacker was laughing", he said.

His mother and sister were then assaulted.

Mr Van Breda is also facing charges of tampering with a crime scene.