Is Henri van Breda’s motive “a culmination of a festering of a perceived injustice”? + 5 Easy Insights from the Carte Blanche Show

At the time Carte Blanche aired their coverage of the Van Breda trial I was doing an interview with A Dark and Stormy Book Club podcast on my book The Murder of Vincent van Gogh. I was angry that Carte Blanche were releasing crime scene footage in a “South African television first” when I had directly and repeatedly petitioned for the release of those same records, in the court building, in person but to no avail.

I was also gobsmacked that an award winning investigative show would interrogate motive without contacting someone who’d written five books specifically interrogating that subject, especially when no one else had.

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You might imagine this is sour grapes, but from an investigative perspective, do you really think you can come into a narrative when it’s all over and pick a few brains over 5 minutes and gain any insights, when ultimately those same brains didn’t answer the question of motive in prior court appearances, or to the media? So why would they be in a position to know more now?

I assumed of course that when Carte Blanche sold their show on why Henri killed his family that they would actually do that. As is typical in investigative shows these days, they hype up the exclusive reveal of “why”, of motive, and then when it comes down to it, they either say “we’ll never know”, or they shovel the same shit that’s been shoveled by the accused since the beginning. In short, they don’t deliver on their premise or their promise. They sell their show on why and then they shortchange their audience.

Now, I did get to watch a repeat of the show during their Monday broadcast. For me the most revealing and important moment came over a few seconds right at the end. State advocate Susan Galloway was careful to emphasize [twice] that it was her personal opinion that Henri’s motive amounted to:

…a culmination of a festering of a perceived injustice…

You can watch that moment below, but notice the way Galloway says it. There’s a slight smile, and a slight stuttering and pausing in the way she communicates it.

The reporter then tries to draw out a little more. “Over a period of years though?”

Galloway confirms this, repeating: “Over a period of years.”

When Andre van Breda, Henri’s uncle [Martin’s twin brother] is asked the same question, he basically inverts it, repeating that he’s been asking the same question over and over to himself. “I still want to know why…I don’t want to think about what happened in that room. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine.”

At the end of the clip the reporter offers the van Breda family comfort, saying: “May the Van Breda’s find the answers they need.”

The thing is, isn’t that the job of an investigative show, and investigative reporters? Wasn’t that what the show explicitly claimed to be providing?

It’s been the question many have been asking: why did Henri brutally attack his family with an axe? This Sunday, in an SA television first, we look at the actual crime scene footage & @Devi_HQ speaks to Henri’s uncle to try and make sense of this tragedy.

So did they? Did they make sense of the tragedy?

I’ve written extensively on the subject, especially in Diablo and Diablo II, so I’m not going to rehash all of that here. I do want to pluck a few low-hanging fruit, if only to expose just how lazy the thinking is, including by the mainstream media.

It seems to me that sometimes influencers are absolutely incapable of thinking. You run to an expert and an insider, and if they can’t do your thinking for you, then…well…it stays a mystery.

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So without further ado, here are 5 Easy Insights from the Carte Blanche Show:

  1. The reporter asks the pertinent question: Why would someone murder their family members in such a brutal way. The question isn’t just why Henri murdered his family, but why the brutality?  Judge Desai referred to it as “unbridled violence”. Why did Henri feel justified in being so gratuitous, so cruel, about dispatching each of his three family members?
  2. Advocate Galloway goes some distance to answer this question, although the distancing of the language she uses is hardly helpful:…a culmination of a festering of a perceived injustice…So, placing the semantics side by side, Henri’s brutality towards his family was as a result of a culmination of something. Or: Henri’s brutality towards his family was as a result of a perceived injustice.
  3. And that injustice took place over a period of years…
  4. What could this distancing language possibly imply, because that’s precisely what it does do. It says something without saying it. So what’s it saying? On December 3rd 2017, an extract from Julian Jansen’s book was published in the Sunday Times. It was appropriately titled Who is the real Henri van Breda…? The answer to why a middle child, and second son harbored violent intentions not just to one member of his family, but all can only be addressed by addressing the family dynamics. In the Carte Blanche interview Uncle Andre addresses the family dynamics, but not very helpfully, because naturally he’s part of that family. So there’s the mismatch between Henri being a wonderful almost perfect son, and then this horrible crime. When Andre van Breda says he can’t imagine what happened in that house, in terms of the crime, there’s some psychological mirroring of him also being unwilling or unable to imagine what went on in the house before the crime. In terms of discord. Julian Jansen, however, addresses it.Fullscreen capture 20180905 082316Now, did friends visiting the family in the week before the murders know better, have better insight than the Uncle living in Pretoria? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? In this tiny little snippet are big answers, though incomplete answers, to the riddle of why. The first is so obvious it’s almost ridiculous. Henri was laboring under acute sibling rivalry. Whether you want to call it a sense of his brother being favored by his father, or Henri himself being jealous of Rudi, it’s the same thing. It’s sibling rivalry that’s at the center of a crime, and thus, it’s the key to seeing why Henri’s attack started where it did and with whom: Rudi in the boy’s room.

    Fullscreen capture 20180905 084144

  5. Just as Galloway’s semantics are distancing and don’t really reveal the emotional heart at the center of this case, and this crime, talking about sibling rivalry is the same thing. It’s throwing out words but not really feeling them out, not testing them in scenarios and contexts that were playing out during the real life timeline of this family, their lifestyle, their expectations, their culture and Henri’s individual experience within all that. We only get a handle on the subtle and slippery family dynamics, we only figure that out by climbing higher through the true crime tree and getting beyond the low hanging fruit. That’s not easy. When I was in court I spoke to Galloway directly and mentioned my research, specifically into Rudi’s Facebook account, and suggested the key to understanding Henri was to see him through the eyes of a student, and a young man wanting to individuate, who wanted to be allowed to be himself in the world [whoever that may be]. In other words, to fathom Henri’s identity, who Henri really is within the context of other family members. Rudi provided a glimpse through extended social media posts to the world Henri either aspired to, or was jealous of. Julian Jansen touches briefly on this as well, this idea that the one son – the older son – is at university achieving, partying and progressing while the other is not. Henri pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes when he said he was not studying, and taking a year out because it was a Gap Year, and by choice. Really? Fullscreen capture 20180905 082320

To do justice to this question, and to answer it to completion, can’t be done in a single blog post. I devoted several chapters in Diablo and Diablo II to interrogating these issues.

What I will say here is that no matter how wealthy the Van Breda’s were, and no matter how much Martin favored Rudi over Henri, and no matter what the scales of Henri’s “perceived injustice”, sibling rivalry alone isn’t a sufficient explanation for Henri’s “festering” inadequacy. 

Virtually every family with siblings in this world has sibling rivalries. It’s absolutely normal and healthy for a sibling to be upset when another gets slightly more cool drink at a birthday party. If that wasn’t the case, people and animals wouldn’t survive the real world. They’d get trampled. We absolutely should demand and fight for what’s due to us in the family setting and beyond.Fullscreen capture 20180905 084302

So I believe there was another issue eating at Henri. The unacknowledged narrative – the hidden narrative – is that if Henri was on drugs and seriously compromised by them, then something was fueling that disproportionate need for soothing. We look at the drugs and say Aha, but what we miss is the thing chewing at him. And it wasn’t just sibling rivalry, although I believe it fed into that. It was, in a manner of speaking, a “perceived injustice”.

This something was disproportionate to Henri and this in turn was mirrored in the savage violence he visited on his folks. But what was it?

I won’t reveal what that thing was here, because that’s a narrative in and of itself, but it was mentioned in court, and it was rumored, just like the drug rumor, from the get-go. Once we intuit that narrative and its implications in the context of university student wanting to occupy his place in the world, we suddenly see the source of almost unfathomable rage coming into sharp focus.

The short answer to why this crime was so brutal, and why the axe murderer laughed while slaughtering his own flesh and blood, has to do with a person who on the one hand was pushed down [by his family and by other things], while on the other hand he’s out of his mind in some way. We experience this in the emergency call, where Henri oddly out of it; he doesn’t seem to be 100% in the real world.

How do ordinary people completely lose their inhibitions in the suburbs, on a daily basis? Not drugs, but…?

The 5 book Van Breda series is available exclusively on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

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14 thoughts on “Is Henri van Breda’s motive “a culmination of a festering of a perceived injustice”? + 5 Easy Insights from the Carte Blanche Show

  1. About a month ago the Las Vegas investigative team closed the books on the Stephen Paddock mass shooting, having come to no determination as to motive. They should have read “Slaughter.” Sometimes people mistakenly believe someone “just snaps.”

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  2. Pauline I don’t know what “just snaps” even means. It’s like saying someone committed murder because they had a mood swing. Oh well, I guess that’s an explanation. Might as well say “just because” or “maybe he was a psychopath”, it’s equally brainless.

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  3. I hope I’m not out of line here, but I wanted to share a video I watched last night regarding Chris Watts. It’s called “Analyzing Chris Watts Unseen interview” and I just like this guy, this Arnold Faks, whoever he is, and his analysis. Perhaps others have already seen it, but it’s interesting when the dogs start barking what Watts does.

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  4. Yes, fromheretohome. He doesn’t seem too rattled, but stutters a bit when his own narrative is confusing to himself! I think we’ll find out a lot more about him as time goes by.

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  5. Oh, okay – I went back to the thread “what else do we know?” and see there is more content added. Will “Two Face” be a new book then?

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  6. I’m wondering if Sha’nann was really making over $80 grand with a multi-level marketing company. Often with those, you have to put IN a huge investment, I know, I worked for one for 6 years until I finally caught on and it left me a wrung out and a nervous wreck, probably contributed greatly to the dissolution of my marriage, although my husband was very supportive. Image was all-important. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t go out of the house dressed up, pretending I was making a huge income working part time. I had makeup on at all times, high heels, suits, nice outfits and we couldn’t have a nice dinner or lunch out where I didn’t think about handing my card out to the waitress or hostess. Or my husband would say are you going to give her your card or should I. There WAS no time off. I worked myself up to sales director and the stress just multiplied. The income did not.

    In some ways Sha’nann’s facebook entries or wherever she’s telling everyone how good life is, reminds me too of Travis Alexander, with Pre-paid Legal, another multi-level marketing type job. He had to lean on positive thinking books, his Mormonism, everything he could think of to keep himself “up” even though he had a stalker for a girlfriend who slashed his tires twice and wouldn’t leave him alone. He was constantly giving himself platitudes, “life is good, ” etc. but was it – obviously not.

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  7. When I think about the “sham” marketing that was going on – but when you are in it you believe it hook line and sinker, if any negative thoughts come up there is someone right there to tell you that’s “stinkin’ thinkin'”. Inflated sales figures, etc. We’re talking 1980-1986, with sales and recruiting commissions my best month would be $4,000 – but I was replacing product and buying sales aids and attending giant seminars and leadership conferences on my own dime all of the time. Four grand in one month is NOT an “executive salary.” It was an aberration. I kept one recruiting check and made the newsletter – that was a top check in the first month of qualifications of $2,000, with sales on top of that. I kept that check, I didn’t turn it back into product. Output was $600 a month minimum because I had to make “quota.” The threat of losing all I had built (in the pyramid) was always there. Chicken feed, and I was a director! We were supposed to be the top 4 percent that even make it that far. The Nationals were “making” (I’m sure before, way before expenses) $20K a month, 80K a month – they were the ones that had been with the company since it was created, late ’50’s early ’60’s – that was the carrot that was dangled. Even if that were so, just what were we striving for? Money? A big house? Jewelry? Those are not things that count. When all was said and done I might have $500 left in a month. $500! That’s it. It’s possible Sha’nann was hired directly by corporate and paid by them, but more likely she had to promote her energy patches and paint a rosy picture in order to bring others in. Also there’s this “I can do it all” mentality – take care of my children, run my home, be good to my hubby, and sell sell sell – every waking moment. No, you can’t do it all. Directors and sales associates can market via the internet now, then we were marketing via our feet – walking, talking, handing out cards, everywhere you saw a person, malls, restaurants, school teachers.

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