Novella trial witness breaks down over 'broken system'

2017-11-02 18:01
Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella speaks with his lawyer William Booth during his court appearance at Western Cape High Court. (File, Gallo Images)

Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella speaks with his lawyer William Booth during his court appearance at Western Cape High Court. (File, Gallo Images)

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Cape Town – The man tasked with taking hair, blood and saliva samples from Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella wept in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday as he told the court that a "broken" system hampered his efforts to do his work.

Dr Donovan Anders – a forensic specialist who worked at Victoria Hospital – wiped away his tears with his collar and his arm as he explained to Judge Vincent Saldanha why he hadn't taken the samples as he was supposed have done.

"We work in a system that is broken," Anders said.

"All I try to do is my job, my lord," he added.

Anders was testifying in Novella's trial in which he is accused of the murder of his girlfriend, American marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban, in Camps Bay on July 29, 2015.

No drug kit

In court on Thursday defence attorney William Booth demanded to know why Anders had not complied with instructions to take the samples from Novella for analysis.

These results may have supported Novella's defence, the court heard.

ALSO READ: No commonly abused drugs found in murdered American’s body, court hears

Anders tried to explain that the hospital did not have a drug kit. It only had an alcohol testing kit.

He said he had raised the issue within his department before.

He explained that he could not simply fill a vial with Novella's blood in the absence of a proper drug kit, because it would go against chain of evidence rules.

Although Novella seemed to be behaving strangely, he did not refer him immediately for a psychiatric evaluation. He said it was up to a court to order a psychiatric evaluation.


The facilities at Victoria Hospital did not have guards for a 72-hour observation, the court heard.

However, the more Anders explained why he failed to follow instructions, the more answers Booth demanded.

Eventually, the witness broke down.

Saldanha adjourned to give Anders time to compose himself.

Novella has pleaded not guilty to the murder and is expected to argue a case of diminished responsibility as a result of drug intoxication.

An evaluation, by a panel of experts at Valkenberg psychiatric hospital, found that he was fit to stand trial.

The trial continues on Monday.

Read more on:    gabriela kabrins alban  |  diego novella  |  cape town  |  crime

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