Matie murder: Friend jumped over wall to safety

2017-05-28 19:36
Matie student Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

Matie student Hannah Cornelius. (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town -  "If I hadn’t jumped over the wall, I would have been dead," a bloodied Matie student who’d been hijacked with his friend in Stellenbosch, told a couple when he’d asked for help.  

The friend, Hannah Cornelius, 21, a second year BA student,  was found murdered next to the Knorhoek Road outside Stellenbosch on Saturday morning. It’s suspected that she was stabbed with a sharp object before being strangled, an informed source told Netwerk24

Cornelius and the male student, who hasn’t been named yet, had been chatting in a blue Golf in front of a block of flats in Bird Street, Stellenbosch, on Saturday morning, when they were hijacked. The incident happened between 03:00 and 06:00.

Averal Fortuin and his wife Margaret, of Bernardino Heights, Kraaifontein heard an urgent knock on their back door at about 08:00. “He [the male student] stood there. He was barefoot and covered in blood,” Fortuin said on Sunday.

The young man with curly brown hair was wearing jeans and a rugby jersey and said: “I want to tell my story.” Fortuin was on his way to let him in because the dog had cornered the young man when the police drove past.

He and his wife flagged down the police for help.

Fortuin said the man was “completely disorientated and didn’t know where he was”. They didn’t speak to him after the police had arrived on the scene, and didn’t know his name.

The police “found a lot of stuff in the veld behind the house and took photographs”, Fortuin said.

According to a source, four men had approached Cornelius and her friend. A man armed with a screwdriver opened the passenger door behind the driver and forced Cornelius onto the back seat. Another three men joined him and Cornelius’ friend was locked in the boot.  

The students were robbed of all their belongings. At one stage, the hijackers drove to Kraaifontein, where they assaulted Cornelius’ friend with bricks, the source said.   

It’s suspected that the hijackers had stabbed Cornelius several times and then strangled her somewhere along the Knorhoek Road. Her body was found along the road at about 08:30, the police confirmed on Sunday morning.

Arrested after chase

Two of the suspected killers were arrested at about 11:00 on Saturday morning after a high-speed chase by police near the Dwars-in-die-weg farm in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. According to reports, they had been involved in a robbery near Northpine, in which they had used the hijacked car.

Elsha Henderson, the primaria of the Irene Residence, where Cornelius had been staying, said law enforcement officials on Saturday asked friends at the res to describe what she’d been wearing.

“We are shattered... She was one of those people who always had a smile for everyone,” Henderson said.  

Cornelius is from Scarborough, near Simon’s Town.

She is the daughter Willem Cornelius, Simon’s Town chief magistrate. His wife, Anna, is a well-known lawyer in Cape circles.  

Andries Cornelius, Hannah’s uncle, said in a statement that the family didn’t have all the details about her death yet. The family thanked everyone for their support and said it was a testimonial to the “wonderful, loving and beautiful person Hannah was”.

University of Stellenbosch Rector Professor Wim de Villiers said: “Our campus community is shocked by this senseless death and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the student who lost her life, as well as the student who was injured.”

The police confirmed on Saturday that two men had been arrested. Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said they were provisionally facing charges of murder, attempted murder and hijacking.

Rwexana said the men, both in their 30s, would appear in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court on Monday.  

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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