The murder trial of UWC student Jesse Hess and her oupa Chris Lategan will now only be heard next year.
Proceedings were brought to an abrupt halt at the Western Cape High Court yesterday as the family was informed that a backlog in cases due to the pandemic have resulted in the matter being postponed by 10 months.
Alleged killers David van Boven, 31, and Tasliem “Boontjie” Ambrose, 37, returned to court where the duo were expected to enter their plea, but instead they were informed that the trial could not be heard this year due to a backlog created by the national lockdown last year.
The death of the young theology student and her 85-year-old oupa sparked an outcry when their bodies were found in their flat on 30 August 2019 after an alleged house robbery.
Van Boven, an alleged member of the 28s gang, was arrested several months later, after he was outed as the suspect who raped a 16-year-old girl in Hanover Park and held her hostage.
He went on the run and was found hiding in Struisbaai.
Boontjie was arrested several days later.
Court documents revealed that Jesse, 19, had also been raped during the robbery and the duo are now facing two counts of murder, robbery as well as fraud for using Jesse’s bank card after she was murdered.
Her father Lance, 44, was left traumatised after reading the indictment and said while they had their suspicions, it was difficult to hear it had been confirmed.
He said yesterday: “We arrived at court ready for the trial to start, but we were told that due to the backlog of cases at the High Court, the trial could only start on 1 February next year.
“We are very disappointed as we waited long for the matter to go to trial to try and get some closure. Now we will have to wait almost another year.”
Lategan’s granddaughter, Megan Smith, 34, says while they understand the reasons for the delay, they hope justice will be served for Jesse and her oupa.
“We are disappointed because we had to prepare ourselves emotionally to be at court,” she says.
“We understand the reasons, but we hope that when the case actually does go on trial, that there will be justice for the victims and their families.”