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Forthcoming book on the De Zalze murders contains all the elements of an uncanny murder mystery

Tafelberg is soon to publish an explosive new book about the Van Breda axe murders.

The De Zalze Murders: The Story Behind the Brutal Axe Attack by award-winning investigative journalist Julian Jansen includes insider accounts of the Van Breda family and others. Jansen was one of the first journalists on the scene, where Martin, Teresa and Rudi van Breda were brutally murdered in their De Zalze home in Stellenbosch in January 2015. Since then, Jansen has followed the case closely, reporting on it for City Press and Rapport.

Jansen, who has been worked as a journalist for the two newspapers for more than a decade, says that when he reached the scene he immediately realised this was not a straight-forward murder case.

‘It contains all the elements of an uncanny murder story. It is highly unusual for three out of five family members to be killed in a single night within the safety of a well-known security complex – especially with an axe. The story really grabbed me at the heart. It just wouldn’t let me go. I realised it would take a lot of investigative work to get to the truth but I had no choice, especially as I know many of the role players as I grew up in the area.’

The trial is currently under way in the Cape Town High Court. Henri has pleaded not guilty on all charges against him. In his plea explanation he claimed the family was attacked by a burglar wearing a balaclava and dark clothing. Henri says the ‘laughing’ murderer attacked the family with an axe but he managed to wrestle it from his hands.

Henri’s younger sister, Marli, also survived the attack but because of a brain injury she cannot remember anything about that fatal night. It is now up to Henri – the only survivor who knows what truly happened – to prove his innocence in court.

In his search for answers, Jansen has interviewed family members, friends of the Van Breda family and others with insider knowledge of the case. The De Zalze Murders contains many revelations while exploring the human side of the tragedy. Could the Van Bredas’ own child have wielded the axe?

The book by Tafelberg, which is an imprint of NB Publishers, will be available in English and Afrikaans.


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