Slain Jesse Hess' dream of being famous 'stolen, shattered into a nightmare' - lecturer

Jesse Hess. (Image via Facebook)
Jesse Hess. (Image via Facebook)

Theology student Jesse Hess dreamed of becoming famous one day, but her name made headlines because of someone else's undoing of her, a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) said at her memorial.

"Her uncle, Dean, told me she dreamed of becoming famous one day. She wanted her name to be known not only in her circle of family and friends but to the wider world," Dr Tiana Bosman said at her well-attended memorial service at the UWC main hall on Wednesday.

Bosman said everyone in the department agreed Hess would have made her dreams come true because she had the character, intellect and work ethic to reach her goals.

"Now, Jesse has become famous but her name did not reach the headlines by her own doing as she would have wanted it. Her dream has been stolen and shattered into a nightmare. And Jesse has been made famous by someone else's undoing of her."

On Friday evening, police officers found her body and that of her 85-year-old grandfather, Chris, at their flat in Victoria Street, Parow.

He was reportedly found tied up in the toilet, while Jesse was found on a bed, Netwerk24 reported.

"A post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Detectives are following up on all leads to solve the case," Captain FC van Wyk said at the time.

A few hours before her death, Hess had won R5 000 on Aden Thomas' Heart 104.9FM breakfast show on Friday.

Her father, Lance Hess, told Netwerk24 that, about 30 minutes after she had won the radio competition, he had tried to phone her to congratulate her, but her phone was off.

He said the family did not believe her windfall had any connection to her murder.

Dressed in black to mourn Hess, a large group of students and staff had to stand outside the packed hall and listen to proceedings via speaker.

Her brother, Darren Solomon, spoke through his tears, describing his sister - the middle child - as "loving, caring, smart and loyal".

He said he had competed with her at everything and tried to do better than her at acting, drama, debating and other activities.

"She would always complain I was copying her, which I denied, but little did she know that if it wasn't for her doing, I wouldn't be half the person I am today," Solomon added.

"Her legacy will forever be cherished," he said to huge applause.

An emotional UWC vice-chancellor Tyrone Pretorius reflected Hess would never walk up onto the stage to graduate.

He acknowledged the horrific act of violence that robbed her of her life, saying it had left him constantly thinking of his female students, his own daughters, and everyone's sisters and mothers.

"We are a broken country, a broken society."

The family thanked those in attendance for their support and prayed for their safety, hoping they would never have to go through the same thing.

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