First witness in Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius murder trial to be called

2018-10-10 05:35
Matie student Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

Matie student Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

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The trial of four men accused of the rape and murder of Hannah Cornelius was adjourned before the first witness was called in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

This, after the advocate representing accused number one, Vernon Witbooi, asked to consult his client about the admissibility of a confession he had made to the police a day after she was killed.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.

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

According to details included in the indictment, Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh were accosted in her VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers and Bird streets in the early hours of May 27, 2017.

Cornelius was allegedly beaten into submission and a screwdriver was used to threaten her, while Marsh was forced into the backseat of his friend's car at knifepoint.

Crime spree

Cornelius was pushed between the two seats and robbed of her purse and cellphone, while Marsh's clothes, cellphone, wallet, longboard, backpack and earrings were taken, the indictment stated.

It is understood that, after the robbery, Julius left the scene.

It is further alleged that Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk then drove to another location in Stellenbosch, where Marsh was forced into the boot. They then headed to Kraaifontein, where Marsh was assaulted and stoned before he was left for dead.

Cornelius was then driven to a bush near a paintball range in Bottelary Road, where she was raped, the State alleges.

From there, she was taken to an area near the Groenhof Farm in Stellenbosch, where she was stabbed twice in the neck. She also sustained severe blunt-force trauma to her head and body, ostensibly after a "big rock" was thrown at her.

The three then allegedly went on a crime spree. They are accused of chasing, assaulting and robbing a woman of her bag, two cellphones, pearls and a wallet in Northpine Drive, between Brackenfell and Kraaifontein.

They are also accused of then driving to Soneike in Kuils River, where they grabbed a woman's bag and assaulted her, before forcing her into Cornelius' car. The kidnapped woman was taken to an ATM in Brackenfell and robbed of R3 000 in cash, two cellphones and her wedding ring.

Confession

They were arrested that same day on their way back to Stellenbosch, when Cornelius' car was spotted and a chase ensued.

Marsh is the State's first witness.

The confession Witbooi allegedly made, which had not been disputed before the trial commenced, was to be handed in by the State as an exhibit when Judge Rosheni Allie questioned his defence attorney about the handing in of the statement and if Witbooi had been consulted about it.

Advocate Tim Vismer briefly spoke to his client before Allie adjourned to allow Vismer to properly consult with the accused.

Cornelius' father is retired Simon's Town magistrate Willem Cornelius.

Her mother, Anna Cornelius, 56, was found dead in March along the shores of Scarborough, less than a year after Hannah's murder.

Police had opened an inquest docket into her death.

Read more on:    hannah cornelius  |  cape town  |  crime  |  rape

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