Murdered Jesse Hess dreamt of becoming a preacher, mourners told

2019-09-07 17:06
Murdered Jesse Hess, 19. (Tammy Petersen)

Murdered Jesse Hess, 19. (Tammy Petersen)

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A video of a larger-than-life Jesse Hess, dancing and sliding down the aisle of the Church of the Nazarene as she lip syncs to a song, reduced mourners to tears during the funeral service of the Cape Town student who spent 90% of her free time in the congregation.

The first-year University of the Western Cape (UWC) theology student and her grandfather Chris, 85, were found dead in their home in Victoria Street, Parow last Friday night.

The elderly man was reportedly found tied up in the toilet and Jesse was found on a bed.

A post mortem would be conducted to determine their causes of death.

Hess had dreamt of becoming a preacher, the church's Reinhard Paulsen said.

She was a youth leader who embodied being an example and not allowing anyone to look down on her because she was young, he told the congregation.

Dr Demaine Solomons, speaking on behalf of UWC's department of religion and theology, said the 19-year-old had been top of her class. She was known to ask difficult questions and pushed boundaries, Solomons said.

"Jesse was a bright young woman who showed lots of potential and could easily have become an academic. She shared her academic abilities unselfishly with her fellow students. She was found on numerous occasions sitting with small groups who were on her course, explaining difficult concepts," he told mourners.

"She showed compassion to those who needed extra support and was known to lift the spirits of those who found the course challenging."

Solomons said his colleagues spoke about how Hess lit up lecture rooms with her positivity and bright smile.

"Among her fellow students, she was the light, the carer, the one who brought the spark back when things got difficult."

jesse hess

Many mourners wore t-shirts decorated with photos of the smiling teenager. (Tammy Petersen)

Hours before her murder, she had won R5 000 in a competition on Heart 104.9FM.

In a clip which the radio station shared, Hess said she had been saving money to do something special for her relatives at the end of the year.

She had sounded excited and hopeful about winning, saying she could spoil her grandparents and aunt who took her in.

At her funeral, her aunt Sandy Hess said she was known to be very strict and protective over her niece.

"But the day I was supposed to protect her the most, I wasn't there," she said, amid murmurs of disagreement.

Hess asked mourners to keep their family in their prayers as they prepare to bury Chris next week.

The Wednesday before her death, Hess uncharacteristically didn't attend church, opting to spend time with her grandmother instead, the pastor said during his sermon.

"God may have whispered in her ear: 'It's almost time'."

Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut on Saturday said the murders were still under investigation and no arrests had yet been made.

Read more on:    jesse hess  |  cape town  |  crime
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