true crime

Henri van Breda was convicted of murdering his own family. But he's always told the same story.

On January 27, 2015, three members of the van Breda family were viciously killed with an axe.

A fourth was left for dead.

The fifth member of the van Breda family, 20-year-old Henri, was charged and later convicted with the murder of his mother, father and brother, and the attempted murder of his little sister.

Henri, however, maintains his innocence.

The 60 Minutes team deep-dive into the case…

Throughout the aftermath of his family’s brutal slaying – his arrest, his trial, and finally his conviction – Henri has told the same story.

The former Perth school student says a “tall, black man wearing a balaclava, gloves and dark clothes”, broke into the family’s home in an exclusive golf estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and began killing his family with an axe.

Henri is not the only person who stands by his story.

In the months following his family’s unimaginable deaths, Henri began dating a woman named Danielle Janse van Rensburg.

When Danielle first met Henri she had no idea who he was. She then found out about the murders while searching online and confronted her new boyfriend.

“I found out through the internet. I saw an article, and then I saw him. I was like, ‘Oh. That really does make sense because he does not talk a lot about his family’,” she tells Liz Hayes on 60 Minutes.


Shocked, Hayes replies, “Your very first reaction was ‘Oh. Not Oh my God’?”

“I was very hurt,” Danielle says.

“I was actually, not hurt, but I felt really heartbroken for him.”

Danielle then tells the program she believed her new boyfriend’s story immediately, and has stood by him through the trial and his conviction.

“He was very open. He was very honest.”

In 2016, she told the South African magazine, You, she wanted people to know that Henri was not capable of the crimes he was accused of.

“He told me that if I had any questions I can ask him and he’ll be honest with me,” she said.

“Anyone who spends a day with him will realise he couldn’t do such a thing. I believe in his innocence 100 per cent.”

The couple had been dating for just four months at the time of the interview.

Henri’s aunt, Leenta Nell, who is his slain mother’s sister, also believes in his innocence.

She tells Hayes she will continue to support him despite the guilty verdict.

“The Henri that I know – nothing in the 19 years that I knew him led me to think that there’s a danger in Henri,” she explains.

Henri’s supporters believe the former Melbourne university student was set up to take the fall for the murders.

On Sunday night’s episode of 60 Minutes, Hayes will speak exclusively to Henri’s girlfriend and aunt, as well as those involved in investigating the case.

The program will also air never-before-seen footage of the crime scene and ask the question: What really happened that night?

60 Minutes airs on Sunday at 8.40pm on Channel Nine.