UWC celebrates Jesse Hess’s 21st birthday with sunflowers that embodied her life. Picture: Supplied.
UWC celebrates Jesse Hess’s 21st birthday with sunflowers that embodied her life. Picture: Supplied.

UWC celebrates Jesse Hess’ life with her favourite flowers

By Murphy Nganga Time of article published Oct 25, 2021

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Cape Town - In celebration of the 21st birthday of the late Jesse Hess, dozens of sunflowers were placed at her home in memory of the slain student and her grandfather.

Her life was cut short before she had a chance to complete her theology degree at the University of the Western Cape.

On Friday, August 30, 2019, Hess and her 85-year-old grandfather Chris Lategan, were found dead in their apartment, leaving family members and communities devastated. She had been raped.

UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius said that Hess’s death had paralysed the UWC community.

“The sunflowers represent happiness, hope and devotion. They embody everything young Jesse was. May we always celebrate her life and the positive contribution she made in the lives of so many in her 19 years with us.”

“Her family is still trying to come to terms with the fact that their sunshine had been taken from them. Her death paralysed the UWC community as it forced the country to face the scourge of Gender Based Violence (GBV) considering countless other women who succumbed to it at the time.”

“Jesse wanted to change the world by helping others – by educating our communities about GBV and trying to find solutions we can help fulfil her dream. South Africa should not be a country where women live in constant fear. It should be a place where girls can reach their full potential unhindered by violence and peace reign at home,” said Pretorius.

UWC’s Department of Criminal Justice & Procedure lecturer Cherith Sanger said in a statement that given the high rate of GBV in South Africa, there was a serious need for more support for victims and their families.

“There are many ways in which you can support those who have survived GBV or the families of victims who have died because of GBV.

“This can be done by listening to the survivor and their family members when they are ready to talk about their experience, assist with day-to-day responsibilities which they may not be able to attend to in the aftermath of the violence and be present in court to offer support because GBV has a devastating effects on victims, their families, the communities where victims live and society generally as it manifests in various forms which all adversely affect its victims psychologically, mentally, and emotionally,” said Sanger.

Weekend Argus

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