Alleged hotel killer wants better prison
Why do the authorities bend over backwards when rich, foreign murder suspects complain about the crowded and dirty conditions in local jails?
This is the question being asked after the lawyer of a suspect from Guatemala was able to persuade a Cape Town magistrate to have his client transferred from a crowded cell to the hospital section of Pollsmoor Prison. William Booth, the lawyer for Diego Novella (41), told Magistrate Grant Engel he was concerned that his client had to share “terrible” toilet facilities in a single cell with 40 others.
Novella also had to share his bed. This past week, his clothes were stolen and he was blackmailed for money.
Novella is accused of murdering US businesswoman Gabriela Kabrins (39) in the Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel. Her fully clothed body was found in her hotel room last Wednesday. Her face had been defecated on and a strange object, possibly an electrical hair iron, was found near her body. She was apparently strangled or suffocated, but it is not clear if she was raped.
Novella was also charged with possession of drugs after about 1kg of cocaine was found in the room.
According to the Daily Mail, Novella is a “rake” and the “black sheep” of the superrich Dougherty Novella family of Guatemala. Kabrins was the daughter of Doris Weitz, a Spanish interpreter who worked in the OJ Simpson murder trial. Weitz was in court last Tuesday. Novella will appear on Friday again, when a date for a bail application will be determined.
Booth yesterday told Rapport, City Press’ sister paper, that his application for better conditions for his client had nothing to do with the fact that his client was a foreigner or had a lot of money.
He said his arguments applied to all awaiting-trial prisoners and ordinary prisoners, especially those who struggled to pay their legal fees. This also applied to guards who had to work in squalid conditions.
“The prison authorities must improve conditions in prisons quickly and drastically. Not much is being done in this regard,” he said.