Murdered woman’s generosity to animals

2014-03-19 00:00

AN Umhlanga woman who was brutally raped and murdered a year ago has left R2 million to the SPCA in her will — an act of kindness those who knew her say was typical.

Shirley Soffiantini (63) lived alone at her Egret Lane home.

A close friend who had known Soffiantini for almost three decades, Patricia Barendse, said she was 100% behind her friend’s decision to leave all her money to the animal welfare organisation.

“Nothing could have been more perfect,” said Barendse.

“She was hurt by people so much that she only trusted animals.”

Soffiantini was not in touch with her family and, according to her friend, had been living alone since her mother died in the 1980s.

She loved cats so much that she would even feed strays. “She was the most loving person with animals,” she recalls.

Soffiantini’s death had shocked the area and to this day Barendse does not know who killed her beloved friend.

“I have even stopped calling the police. This person just got away with it … The way she died was the hardest thing I had to deal with …”

Residents were overcome with sorrow, but say that something good has come of the gruesome incident, thanks to Soffiantini’s generosity to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Soffiantini’s neighbour, Anni Eisele, described her as a “very gentle person” who was well-known locally.

“She was pure. It’s sad that she was living on her own,” she added.

Eisele is a real estate agent and director of Seeff Umhlanga, the company that sold Soffiantini’s house.

The property went for just under R2 million, and all the proceeds were donated to the SPCA last week.

Eisele told The Witness that she had tried to help her friend secure a safer flat where she would have been surrounded by people.

However, very few blocks in Umhlanga are pet-friendly and Soffiantini could not move home because she could not live without her cat.

“Her cat was like her child.”

Others who knew her well say her dream was to live in a place where there was an air-conditioner and a sea view.

“She was always smiling but so lonely … The way she was murdered was gruesome and tragic,” Eisele added.

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