Durban - In life, Shirley Soffiantini loved animals, especially the two cats she spent most of her time with.
Now, almost a year since she was murdered in her uMhlanga home, that love is still evident in a donation of about R2 million to the Durban and Coast SPCA and another unnamed animal welfare organisation.
The money was from the sale of the 63-year-old’s Egret Lane home in December.
Soffiantini had left her will with a Pretoria attorney, said close friend Warren Eisele, a director of Seeff uMhlanga, which was mandated to sell the property.
“The sale of the house was concluded in December 2013. Her furniture and possessions were also donated to the SPCA.”
He said Soffiantini had only distant relatives in the US but they had not been included in her will.
Caroline Smith, marketing manager for Durban and Coast SPCA, said they had been contacted soon after Soffiantini’s death and told they had benefited by R800 000 from her estate. She said they had also been in communication with Soffiantini before her death.
“She was known to us as she was part of our legacy bequest programme which recognises people who have left something to us in their will.”
She said the contents of Soffiantini’s house would be sold off for their fund-raising. “This was a substantial contribution. Her death was tragic but I think she would be comforted by the fact that her last wishes were granted.”
One of Soffiantini’s cats died a few years ago and the remaining cat has been rehomed with a friend.
Eisele said he and his wife, Annie, had known Soffiantini for many years, and he had often given her a lift to the village to do her shopping.
Soffiantini’s body was found after Vusi Shozi, a worker at a complex across from her home, noticed she had not placed her refuse bags outside for collection. Shozi alerted neighbours who found Soffiantini in the bedroom lying in a pool of blood. Her hands and legs were tied and her mouth was covered with a piece of cloth.
Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said a case of murder was still under investigation by police in Durban North.