In July 2015 American marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban and her Guatemalan boyfriend Diego Novella flew into South Africa for a holiday. The couple booked into a boutique hotel in Camps Bay.
Both Kabrins and Novella came from privileged backgrounds and were used to working hard and partying harder. They both came from families who loved them dearly and gave them the freedom to be outgoing fun-loving individuals who travelled the world. At 39 Gabriela was not showing any signs of settling down, but neither was then-40-year-old Diego.
According to Novella, they chose South Africa because they were seeking treatment to assist Kabrins in her battle with Lyme disease, caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick.
So there was no reason to believe that this holiday, in beautiful, lazy Cape Town would turn into a nightmare for both families and that one of their children would not ever come home again.
On July 29, hotel staff discovered Gabriela's body in the room she shared with Diego. She had been strangled. A subsequent postmortem also revealed that Gabriela had suffered blunt-force trauma. Her face was covered with potato chips and faeces and a note had been left on her body with the Spanish word “cerote ” scrawled on it. The word means piece of s***.
Diego has been convicted of Gabriela's murder and is awaiting sentencing. But for Gabriela's parents, the agony is far from over. They have to come to terms with the horrific manner in which their daughter's life was ended by a man she trusted and loved. And they have to try and make peace with never sharing another conversation, a family highlight or even a simple phone call with her.
Gabriela will never celebrate another Women's Month, another birthday or another Christmas. She will never have the chance to see the dreams and ambitions she held for herself realised.
For Gabriela's sake and the sake of women everywhere, if you know somebody who has committed an act of violence against a woman Don't Look Away.
If you know a young woman's life is in danger, Don't Look Away.
If you are able to help prevent another tragedy, Don't Look Away.
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