The trial in the murder of former Malibu resident Gabriela Kabrins Alban has resumed in South Africa after an exhausting, long recess. It had been a full two months without courtroom proceedings as the trial of Diego Novella broke for a lengthy winter break. However, the recess was anything but relaxing for the victim’s family, especially her father, local restaurateur Howdy Kabrins.
Kabrins, who was about to work on opening another restaurant in Malibu before his daughter was murdered in Cape Town in 2015, has put all his business efforts on hold as he makes his presence known daily for courtroom proceedings and in the local South African community. For the past two years, Kabrins and his wife Linda have been traveling back and forth from Malibu to Cape Town as he advocates for justice in his daughter’s brutal murder. During the recent two-month recess, though, the trip was too draining, especially on Kabrins’ health. He spent five days in Christian Barnard Hospital suffering from pneumonia. He credits his wife Linda with helping him gain the strength physically and emotionally to prepare for the trial that resumed Feb. 5 against the man who is accused of viciously killing 39-year-old Alban and desecrating her body.
Kabrins told The Malibu Times he and his wife did not sleep for days in anticipation of the trial resuming after the state rested its case and the defense started to present its side. The accused murderer took the stand last week, but once again, Kabrins relayed his frustration in more delays when the defense requested a Spanish speaking interpreter for Novella “even though the bastard speaks perfect English.
“As I have said before, the time lines here are inexplicable,” Kabrins said.
The accused is a Guatemalan national who was in a relationship with Albans at the time of the murder. The two were sharing a hotel room at the Camps Bay resort in July 2015 when Alban’s body was found bludgeoned. Novella was arrested shortly afterward.
Novella, whose family owns a century-year-old concrete business and had been living off his family fortune, has hired a team of lawyers that is using a diminished capacity defense. By email, Kabrins commented, “Keep in mind that the only drugs found and that he admits to have consumed that horrible night were Cannabis and Sceletium, kind of like melatonin, sold over the counter. Strange????”
Because of his overwhelming grief and stress, Kabrins said he has consulted close friends and confidants on how to manage his reactions in the courtroom and to prevent further outbursts on his part upon seeing the accused. He reported that he and his family—wife Linda, ex-wife and Alban’s mother Doris Weitz and her husband, retired Superior Court Judge Alexander Williams—were all quiet as the accused took the stand last week. Kabrins said he also tries to swim in the ocean daily, even with brisk 55-degree Fahrenheit water temperature, to calm his nerves and reflect on his role in advocating for his only child. At the same time, the Malibu resident is speaking out against femicide—the killing of a woman or girl in particular by a man and on account of her gender. Femicide recognition is growing steadily in many parts of the world where women are disproportionately killed by men.
The murder trial is being covered extensively by local South African media where Kabrins has held a few interviews. He told The Malibu Times he not only wants justice for his daughter but also for the scores of other women in the world who have been hurt or killed by men. In his email he wrote, “Perhaps South Africa is a real platform to generate awareness of not just social and economic issues, but to address the very core of our humanity and our duty as human beings on this planet.”
The historic drought in South Africa has also been weighing on Kabrins’ mind. Extreme water rationing has made life difficult for residents. The city of Cape Town says at this rate it will be completely without water by May 11.
“It was difficult not returning when there was a break, but the wear and tear and all the costs have kept us here, in the drought,” Kabrins commented, adding “we are praying for rain. We need some of that Chumash prayer and dance. Everyone is conscientious and doing their best to make changes to what we take for granted.”
A Gofundme online fundraising campaign at JusticeforGaby.com is helping Kabrins with ensuring the logistics of keeping his presence in court. Kabrins says he also appreciates the support he has been given from his Malibu friends and misses them.