Two men have gone on trial for the murder of a pretty 18-year-old theology student and her elderly grandfather.
The high-profile trial is taking place at Bellville Magistrate’s Court in the south-western South African city of Cape Town.
On 30th August, Jesse Hess, an 18-year-old theology student from the University of the Western Cape, and her 85-year-old grandfather Chris Lategan were killed in the family’s flat.
Lategan was found tied and gagged in the bathroom and Hess was discovered nude on her bed after apparently being strangled to death.
The two defendants, David van Boven and Tasliem Ambrose, are also facing charges of aggravated robbery for stealing a TV, two smartphones and the teen’s backpack.
Prosecutor Emily can Wyk said that further charges may be added. It is unclear if the victim was sexually assaulted.
Reports said that Van Boven, 31, is Hess’s second cousin although he has spent most of her life in prison after being convicted of raping a relative. He was released on parole in December 2018.
He arrived in court wearing a hoodie on 20th November as the victim’s family members wore shirts that said ‘Justice for Jess’. When they asked him to remove his hoodie, he looked at the crowd and asked: “Why do you want to see my face?”
His 37-year-old co-defendant Ambrose has a previous conviction for possession of drugs and a firearm, according to local media.
In the weeks following her death, #JusticeForJesse has been trending on social media and her face has appeared on posters and signs during protest marches against gender violence in the city.
According to local media, van Boven and Ambrose have been denied bail and will appear in court again on 12th February 2020.
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