Dad of Camps Bay murder victim highlights horror of violence against women

Despite endless sleepless nights of being haunted by images of his daughter, Howdy Kabrins has attended every day of her killer's trial in the Western Cape High Court.

Testifying in aggravation of sentence during Diego Novella's trial on Wednesday, he said he was not only fighting for Gabriela Kabrins Alban but also highlighting how females' voices were being silenced through violence.

"I will turn over every stone. I will walk across the sun to get justice for Gaby," he said.

"This is an example of women around the world being murdered by their mates, their men, girls being murdered... There is a rape culture rooted in almost everywhere in the world."

Novella, from Guatemala, rested his head against his hand on Wednesday and appeared to keep his eyes closed for most of the time.

He was convicted in June of murdering Kabrins Alban at a Camps Bay Hotel on July 29, 2015.

She was a successful US marketing executive before losing her energy to Lyme Disease.

Novella had convinced Kabrins Alban to travel to South Africa for treatment.

The scene of her murder was gruesome, and the horrific details emerged in court previously.

Kabrins, who is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, said he was "not okay" because the violent images were stuck in his mind.

He imagined how his daughter would have pleaded for her life and how he kept hearing her voice saying: "Daddy, please help me."

"[The pathologist] was telling us that she was a victim of overkill... meant to invoke severe pain," he said.

"She was being hit while she was still alive. They had to force her eyes open with forceps because the swelling was so intense."

He recalled to the court his many happy memories of his daughter's childhood, how they rode horses on a Malibu beach, and how she transformed into a successful entrepreneur.

Judge Vincent Saldanha was shown large photos - one of Kabrins Alban as a girl, another where she embraced Howdy and a portrait taken before she fell ill.


Howdy Kabrins holds up a photo of his daughter, Gabriela Kabrins Alban, in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, after testifying in aggravation of her killer's sentence. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

The family have ensured that her presence was felt in the courtroom throughout.

Her mother Doris has kept a framed photo near her at all times, Kabrins wore a tie she had given him, and stepfather Alexander Williams wore a purple tie on Wednesday because it was their favourite colour.

Testifying on Wednesday, Williams described his fondness for Kabrins Alban and the special bond he witnessed between her and his wife Doris.

"I saw her transform into this really remarkable, sharp, savvy in-the-know, on-the-go woman," he said.

Her stepmother Linda testified that they had been "extremely close" and recalled how Kabrins Alban would phone her for long chats almost every evening. 

"We are determined to build a foundation in Gaby’s name. Our goal is to create [something] for her and women around the world who are abused, raped and murdered by their intimate partners. We will give them a voice," she said.

"If one little life can be saved, we will have succeeded in doing justice for Gaby."

The family have called for the harshest sentence.

Novella is expected in court for closing arguments on Monday.