Four men stand accused of the rape and murder of University of Stellenbosch student, Hannah Cornelius. Four men stand accused of the rape and murder of Hannah Cornelius. The brutal slaying of the University of Stellenbosch student sent shockwaves through the community back in May 2017.
Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk, Nashwill Julies, and Geraldo Parsons all appeared before the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, facing charges relating to the gruesome rape and murder of Cornelius and the violent attack on her friend Cheslin Marsh.
Admissibility of confession under question
According to News24, the trial’s first witness has been called to testify before the court on Wednesday, following an early adjournment the day before. Legal counsel representing accused number one, Witbooi, requested the deferment to consult his client on a confession he had made to the police a day after Cornelius was killed.
Witbooi’s alleged confession has been delivered to Judge Rosheni Allie via the state prosecutor. Witbooi’s advocate, Tim Vismer, is expected to argue the admissibility of the confession.
Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius – her last moments alive
According to the indictment, Cornelius and Marsh were attacked while in the victim’s VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers and Bird streets in the early hours of May 27, 2017.
Cornelius was viciously beaten and threatened with a screwdriver. Marsh was forced into the backseat of the vehicle.
Cornelius was then robbed of her purse and cellphone. Marsh’s clothes, cell phone, wallet, longboard, backpack and earrings were also stolen by the perpetrators.
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Following the initial robbery, Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk commandeered the victim’s vehicle, forcing Marsh into the boot, and driving to Kraaifontein. Marsh was then assaulted, hit with stones and left for dead.
The perpetrators then drove Cornelius to an area near a paintball range in Bottelary Road. Here, the state alleges, Cornelius was raped repeatedly. She was then driven to an area near the Groenhof Farm in Stellenbosch, where she was stabbed in the neck. The state also claims her skull was crushed by a rock.
It’s alleged that following the rape and murder of Cornelius, the accused then went on a crime spree between Brackenfell, Kraaifontein and Kuils River, assaulting, kidnapping and robbing women of their possessions.
The men were eventually apprehended by police officers following a high-speed car chase.
Cheslin Marsh called to testify
Marsh, who managed to survive the attack, is expected to appear before the court as the State’s first witness.
Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius face a slew of charges including murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Julius has argued that, following the initial robbery in Stellenbosch, he parted ways with his coaccused, and therefore, was not involved in the rape and murder of Hannah Cornelius.
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