Alban was found dead at a Camps Bay hotel on July 29, 2015, while the couple were on holiday.
She had a hair iron between her legs, close to her private parts, and faeces on her body and a piece of paper on which was written “piece of s**t” on her chest.
Novella was sentenced last week by the Western Cape High Court following his conviction in June.
His family issued a statement in response to the court outcomes.
They said they were coping with the sentence handed down by Judge Vincent Saldanha. They said the trial had been long and arduous.
“As a family, we are still coming to terms with this tragedy and outcome. Diego has suffered immensely for his mistakes and continues to cope with Gaby’s loss.
“However, it is unreasonable that Diego be given a sentence of 20 years given his lack of violent/criminal past and his intoxication, and Gaby’s, at the time of the offence.
“We expect the court to take this and other facts into consideration during the defence’s appeal process.
“Our thoughts are with Gabriela’s family during this difficult time.
“We know in our hearts he will do good, and use this story as a cautionary tale for all those couples, like Gaby and Diego, involved in toxic relationships and suffering from substance abuse.”
In his sentencing Judge Saldanha said Novella did not show remorse or take sole responsibility for the crime.
He said Novella did not express an apology to the Albans family.
“He portrayed himself as a victim, blamed his conduct as a result of drug consumption, referring to it as ‘our mistake’. Seeking to blame portion of it to the deceased as if she died at her own hands,” he said.
Alban’s mother, Doris Weitz, said she hoped Novella would be sentenced to life.