Hannah Cornelius detective denies forcing accused to write letter to her parents

2018-10-22 18:26
Eben van Niekerk (centre) with Vernon Witbooi (left) and Nashville Julius. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Eben van Niekerk (centre) with Vernon Witbooi (left) and Nashville Julius. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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A police sergeant denied that he forced one of four men accused of Hannah Cornelius' murder to write a letter to her parents.

"That is untrue your honour," Sergeant Steven Adams told the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

"Your honour, I didn't even know he was going to write a letter. He just asked for a pen and paper."

The court heard that Adams took Eben van Niekerk to a doctor. As they made their way back, a news report about Cornelius's death was on the radio.

"Am I in trouble?" Van Niekerk asked, according to Adams.

He said he did not even know what Van Niekerk was under investigation for at the time, and so he responded that he didn't know.

Once he put Van Niekerk back in a cell, the accused asked for a pen and some paper. The sergeant gave it to him and carried on with his work.

Van Niekerk later gave Adams a letter, which the sergeant claimed he gave to his branch commander the following day.

However, Van Niekerk disputes that this is what happened.

His advocate, Dudley Johnson, said the letter that Van Niekerk signed was "made under duress" at Adams' instructions and without Van Niekerk being read his rights.

Adams said the claim was not true but admitted that didn't personally read Van Niekerk his rights because he didn't know what he was going to do with the pen and paper.

READ:  'I didn't commit any crime' – accused in Hannah Cornelius murder

The letter itself was not read out on Monday and testimony about its contents is expected to continue on Tuesday.

Cornelius's mother died in March this year. Her body was found floating at Scarborough beach, Cape Town. Her father is retired Simon's Town magistrate Willem Cornelius.

READ: Mother of slain Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius found dead

Van Niekerk, Nashville Julies, Vernon Witbooi and Geraldo Parsons have been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape, and for the severe attack on Cornelius' friend, Cheslin Marsh, who survived.

They are also accused of robbing another woman of her handbag on May 27, 2017 – the day Cornelius was found dead.

Cornelius and Marsh were kidnapped while chatting in a parking lot in Stellenbosch in the blue car which Cornelius' granny gave to her.

On Monday, a woman who tried to block four men in a car fitting the description of Hannah's blue Citi Golf, also testified in the trial.

Forty-one-year-old Faith Sheldon said she had been driving down Northpine Road in the direction of Brackenfell on the morning of May 27 - the same day Cornelius and Marsh were kidnapped.

"I looked right, and I saw two guys attacking a woman," said Sheldon.

She said they were on either side of the pedestrian, going for her handbag. The woman fell during the ambush and they grabbed her handbag and ran into a side road.

Sheldon drove after them hoping to get the woman's handbag back.

The two people jumped into the back of a blue Golf.

Sheldon tried to block the Golf, but they drove towards her and she reversed to get out of their way.

She went to help the woman and took her to a friend's house where the police were called.

She said she could not identify the four people she saw in the car, but just remembered the first part of the yellow CL number plate which she gave to the police.

A subpoena has been issued for the young victim to attend court but in the meantime, the officer that attended to the attack on the woman said the woman had been very emotional.

Constable Ingrid Mouton said the woman knew something was wrong when the men started following her and had tried to cross the road to get away from them.

She tripped and fell and they grabbed her bag containing R230, two phones, a bank card and a store card.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    hannah cornelius  |  cape town  |  crime

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