Stellenbosch cop recounts dramatic chase that led to arrest of Hannah Cornelius murder suspect

A Stellenbosch police sergeant on Monday recounted a dramatic chase through a local farm that resulted in the arrest of one of the men accused of the brutal rape and murder of student Hannah Cornelius.

Sergeant Clifton Adams was on duty on May 27 last year when he became aware of a hijacked blue Citi Golf being pursued in the student town early that afternoon, he testified in the Western Cape High Court.

He and his partner spotted the car and gave chase, joining a convoy which had already been chasing the car as it headed toward the Devon Valley Road, eventually coming to a stop at Dwars-in-die-Weg Farm.

CCTV footage showed officers, including Adams, jumping out of their vehicles and chasing after two suspects who deserted the stolen car inside the venue and fled in different directions.

Adams estimated that the pursuit was over a distance less than a kilometre, snaking through the farm's function venue, vineyards and towards the farmworkers' homes.

A fellow officer had shouted for the suspect to lie down, and he complied.

He pointed out Geraldo Parsons as the man he had cuffed that day before taking him to the holding cells of the Stellenbosch police station.

Parsons, Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius face a string of charges including murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.

The men allegedly accosted Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh in her VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers and Bird streets in the early hours of May 27, 2017.

Cornelius was threatened with a screwdriver while Marsh was forced into the back seat of his friend's car at knife point.

Cornelius was raped and stabbed to death.

Marsh was robbed of his cellphone and clothes and forced into the car's boot. He was later assaulted with bricks and left for dead.

Permanent ear damage

Dr Taurai Gororo of Tygerberg Hospital, who examined Marsh after his ordeal, on Monday testified that Marsh, who was a student at the time, had suffered a base of skull fracture, among other injuries, and that he was lucky to have survived.

He said Marsh would never be able to play contact sports such as rugby because of his injuries.

WATCH: CCTV footage shows kidnapping of Hannah Cornelius and friend

The damage to Marsh's left ear is permanent and he will never be able to hear through it again.

Hannah Cornelius

Vernon Witbooi during the pointing out parade, indicating where the gang rape of Hannah Cornelius took place. (Supplied)


Witbooi, who in a confession admitted to being with his co-accused that night but denied any involvement in the rape and murder, had also pointed out the area where the attacks apparently took place that night.

Marsh is alleged to have been attacked on Bottelary Road near the Kraaifontein sewage plant.

Cornelius was, according to Witbooi, raped near the Bottelary Sports Club.

Drugs, drug and paraphernalia found in car

He indicated that it had been dark that night, and he could not give an exact location.

Police photographer Brandon van der Merwe was also called to the witness box where he confirmed that he had photographed the scene the morning Cornelius' body was found.

He said when her body was discovered, Cornelius had been lying on her stomach. One of her earrings was missing from her ear and a large rock was close to her remains.

Numerous condom wrappers were photographed at the scene of the rape.

He also photographed her car after it was deserted by the suspects. The photos show an Okapi knife, a screwdriver, drugs and drug paraphernalia, an empty cooldrink bottle and cigarette butts in the car.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Who do you think should lead the Democratic Alliance after the party’s upcoming national congress in April?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
John Steenhuisen for sure, he’s got the experience
62% - 913 votes
Mpho Phalatse, the DA needs a fresh outlook
38% - 554 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.