Hannah Cornelius stabbed because she refused to get out of her car boot - accused (WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS)

2018-10-24 15:17

*WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS

Hannah Cornelius was stabbed because she refused to get out of the boot of her hijacked car, one of the men accused of her murder testified in the Western Cape High Court. 

Geraldo Parsons was in the witness stand to testify in his defence on Wednesday, painting his co-accused Vernon Witbooi as the mastermind behind the brutal killing of the Stellenbosch student and the savage assault on her friend, Cheslin Marsh.

Parsons claimed he and his co-accused Eben Van Niekerk had been walking around to pass the time as they waited for their wages to be paid into their account at midnight on May 27, 2017.

They wanted to see where they could "vang stront aan (look for trouble)" in the meantime, he claimed, and took a stroll to the town, admitting that they planned to rob people.

They were joined by Witbooi and Nashville Julius on the way.

Parsons testified they spotted Cornelius' blue VW Golf and robbed the pair. He wanted to steal the car to sell it to drug dealers in Delft.

He later realised that Julius fled after the robbery, he said.

Parsons said he drove to Helshoogte Pass, where he had planned to properly search the two students and leave them there. Witbooi had however found Marsh's bank cards and demanded the PIN.

Marsh had said there wasn't any money in his account, but Witbooi didn't believe him and decided he must be forced into the boot, Parsons claimed.

With their loot, they drove to Jamestown for tik, but could only find mandrax. They bought it and drove to a drug house in Kraaifontein, where they had been before.

According to Parsons, they took Cornelius inside with them and she also smoked a "slow boat". He said there was high-grade dagga in her car when they stole it.

Parsons alleges he had maintained to Witbooi that they needed to get rid of Cornelius and Marsh and that he knew where they could leave them.

He drove to the local sewage plant and removed Marsh from the boot, Parsons testified.

Witbooi walked to an open field with his male hostage while Parsons ostensibly locked the boot.

When he rejoined them, he said he found Marsh lying on his stomach and Witbooi had two bricks in his hand.

"He said we need to kill him. I thought he was joking."

Parsons said Witbooi threw the bricks at Marsh. He conceded that he too looked for stones, but could not find any.

They left Marsh there and returned to the car, where Van Niekerk was waiting with Cornelius.

Witbooi said she should move to the back seat of the car as people would see "the white girl" in the front.

Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk,
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk, and Nashwill Julies in court on October 17. (Adrian de Kock, Netwerk24) 

Afraid

Parsons claimed that while they drove, Witbooi gave him a condom.

"He said Hannah said we can have sex with her, then we must leave her and not hurt her."

Parsons could see the student was afraid, but she said they "could" do it, he testified.

"She wasn't saying she wanted to do it."

He admitted raping Cornelius.

"It didn't feel right," Parsons said, crying. "I have a girlfriend and children. But I did it." 

He said Witbooi raped her after, and then Van Niekerk. They left the condoms at the scene and put her in the boot of the car. 

Parsons drove to a farm with directions from Witbooi as he wasn't familiar with the area, he claimed.

Parsons wanted to "get rid of her" but she didn't want to get out of the boot, he testified.

He pulled at her and Van Niekerk stabbed her in the neck because she pulled back, Parsons said.

There was too much blood and he let go of her, he claimed. 

Witbooi kicked her in the stomach and fetched a big rock which he threw on her head, Parsons told the court, saying that his co-accused said they couldn't leave her alive as she would go to the police.

They left the scene and went to the Kraaifontein home of "Kaffertjie", where they smoked more drugs, Parsons said.

The man was also mentioned by Witbooi in his confession. The State has not yet found this suspect.

"Kaffertjie" was with them when they robbed a woman in Northpine and another in Soneike before they dropped him at home with his share of their takings.

Van Niekerk was also taken home as he was tired, Parsons said.

Parsons said he was guilty of all the charges because he "did all the things" he had been accused of.

He claimed he pleaded not guilty because the State hadn't proven its case and he was afraid that his co-accused would turn on him.

Scratches, abrasions

During cross-examination, Parsons said Cornelius became "more relaxed" after they promised not to hurt her, but he knew she was scared.

He claimed that when they had raped her, she didn't fight or cry.

"She took everything just as it came."

Prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst questioned this, pointing out that he and Witbooi had numerous scratches and abrasions in and around their faces.

He said he didn't know where it was from.

Van Niekerk did not sustain any injuries and his DNA was not found at the scene.

Badenhorst asked Parsons about what transpired when Cornelius was stabbed.

He then claimed that the student was outside the car and that Van Niekerk knifed her twice after she became "sterk".

"She made a noise, but when Eben stabbed her, she didn't make a noise anymore."

He denied the contents of Witbooi's earlier confession, which painted Parsons as the mastermind behind the attack.

The trial continues on Monday. Parsons is expected to call a witness in his defence.

*This story has been updated.

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

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