'He was pressured into doing it' – Hannah Cornelius murder accused's mom

2017-11-28 14:28
Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – The mother of one of the men accused of killing 21-year-old Hannah Cornelius in May, says she believes her son was pressured into committing the murder.

Veronica Witbooi was speaking to News24 outside of the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court, where her son, Vernon, appeared alongside co-accused Eben van Niekerk, Nashwill Julies, and Geraldo Parsons.

The four have been charged with kidnapping, assault, rape, and murder relating to an attack on Cornelius and Cheslin Marsh earlier this year.

'He was intimidated'

Witbooi said her son had never committed any brutal acts, such as murder, before.

"That morning he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was drinking with them [the other accused] and he doesn't even drink. He was intimidated to do it. He was intimidated," a concerned Veronica said. 

"Stealing, motor theft, things like that he appears in court for, but never for murder."

Inside the court, she called out to Witbooi, saying she would "pay in the money".

She later explained to News24 that the money was meant for his living expenses while he was held in the Stellenbosch correctional facility. 

His three co-accused are in Pollsmoor prison.

'His life is in danger'

Witbooi said her son’s co-accused were angry that he was held separately from them. 

"His life is in danger. We don't know what might happen to him while he is there. They [his co-accused] might hire men to go kill him," she said. 

"But I don't want to say too much, our lives are also in danger."

Witbooi lives with her two other children in Kayamandi, just outside of Stellenbosch. 

Prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst asked that the matter be postponed to give the State time to hand over the docket to the accused's attorney. 

Badenhorst said other victims affected by the attack on May 27 were yet to be consulted. 

The four accused, who were shackled, nodded as Badenhorst explained that the matter was likely to be transferred to the Western Cape High Court for trial.

Magistrate Eric Khaketla postponed the matter to December 13. 

'He stays my child'

The men’s shackles clinked as they were escorted out of the courtroom.

Witbooi said, despite her unhappiness with her son’s arrest, she would continue to diligently attend court proceedings. 

"It hurts me. It hurts me, but he stays my child. He will always stay my child," she said, before rushing off to her local bank to withdraw the money she had mentioned to her son earlier.

Cornelius and Marsh were accosted while they sat in her car in Bird Street, Stellenbosch, in the early hours of May 27. Cornelius' body was later found on the side of a road, near a wine farm outside Stellenbosch.

Her Citi Golf was allegedly used in an armed robbery in Northpine, between Brackenfell and Kraaifontein.

Police made their first arrests after a dramatic car chase.

Read more on:    hannah cornelius  |  cape town  |  crime

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