Femicide | Jesse Hess’ aunt: ‘You don’t get over it, you just learn to live with it’ | News24


The first year theology student dreamt of becoming a preacher. (Facebook, Jesse Hess)

  • The lifeless bodies of Jesse Hess and her grandfather Chris Lategan were found in their Parow home on 30 August 2019.
  • Hess, 19, was an aspiring pastor and a first-year University of the Western Cape theology student.
  • Relations within her family have strained following the arrest of Jesse’s second cousin David van Boven three months after the bodies were discovered.

It’s almost a year since Jesse Hess and her grandfather Chris Lategan’s lifeless bodies were found in their home in Parow, Cape Town.

And it’s been almost a year since her aunt, Sandy, has felt anything other than a never-ending sadness.

“You don’t get over it – you just learn to live with it,” Sandy told News24. “It becomes part of your life, that hurt and pain.”

Jesse, an aspiring pastor and first-year University of the Western Cape theology student, and oupa Chris, 85, were found dead on 30 August 2019.

Neighbours had seen Chris’ lifeless body through the bathroom window after Sandy asked another tenant to check on them when she couldn’t reach them by phone.

Jesse’s body was found inside the flat when neighbours kicked down the door.

They were believed to have been strangled.

Only a TV set, two cellphones and Jesse’s backpack were stolen from the flat.

The rest of the family moved out of their home that same night.

Sandy had been convinced their assailants had been known to them as no sign of forced entry was found.

Jesse’s second cousin David van Boven and Tasliem Ambrose, who lived in the same road as him in Hanover Park, were arrested three months later.

READ | Two accused of murdering Jesse Hess, grandfather threaten legal action over DNA delays

Their murder and aggravated robbery trial has been moved to the Western Cape High Court, where they are expected for their first pre-trial conference on 23 October.

“I will probably grieve when all of this, the trial and judgement, is over, when everything is done and I know that they will lock them up and throw away the key,” Sandy said.

She feels her loved ones’ loss every day.

She said: 

I watch TV and I come across a programme and think: ‘Jesse used to like that’. Or I remember how she used to make us laugh – she was so funny.

“Her life hadn’t even started yet. This void is enormous. And it’s not closing, not at all.”

Ma Cathy, who lost her husband and her granddaughter that day, was now more quiet than before, Sandy said. Her birthday in April was especially hard, as she shared it with her husband.

The family has fallen on hard times as Cathy, 68, is no longer working as a pre-school teacher owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. Sandy’s search for work – she lost her job as she dealt with the fallout of her family members’ deaths – continues, while her son is also jobless as his company closed amid the pandemic.

In addition to that, relations within their extended family has been strained following Van Boven’s arrest.

But Sandy said she hoped things will get better.

“One day.”

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