Hannah Cornelius accused found guilty on all charges

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

Three men accused of the rape and murder of Hannah Cornelius and the attempted murder of her friend Cheslin Marsh were found guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Eben Van Niekerk, Geraldo Parsons and Vernon Witbooi appeared expressionless as Judge Rosheni Allie delivered her judgement. 

Fourth accused Nashville Julius, who was charged with robbery and kidnapping, was also found guilty.

The four were accused of accosting Cornelius and Marsh in her VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers Road and Bird Street in Stellenbosch in the early hours of May 27, 2017.

Cornelius was threatened with a screwdriver, while Marsh was forced into the backseat of his friend's car at knifepoint.

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 forcefully taken.

After the robbery, Julius left the scene.

Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk then drove to the Helshoogte Pass, where Marsh was forced into the boot.

The accused took the now 22-year-old to a field near Bernadino Heights, Kraaifontein, where he was assaulted and stoned with bricks and left for dead.

The three ostensibly picked up a fourth suspect – nicknamed "Kaffertjie" who had given them drugs at a nearby "rook plek".

Cornelius was then driven to a bush near a paintball range in Bottelary Road, where she was raped by the three as well as Kaffertjie.

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 after a rock was thrown at her head.

The three, as well as "Kaffertjie", then went on a crime spree. They were accused of chasing, assaulting and robbing Ncumisa Qwina of her bag, two cellphones, pearls and wallet in Northpine Drive, between Brackenfell and Kraaifontein.

They are accused of then driving to Soneike in Kuils River, where they grabbed Mimi October’s bag and forced 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.

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

Witbooi in a confession to police painted Parsons as the mastermind.

Parsons, the only accused who elected to testify, claimed Witbooi had been the one calling the shots.

He said Van Niekerk had been the one to stab Hannah in the neck as she had refused to get out of the car boot at the farm where she was killed. Parsons testified that Witbooi had kicked the bleeding student in the stomach and fetched a big rock which he threw on her head,

Despite pleading not guilty, in the witness box he confessed to being guilty of all the charges against him.

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