New hearing aid helps Cheslin Marsh hear 'clearly' as attackers get life

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Cheslin Marsh heard everything Judge Rosheni Allie said in the Western Cape High Court on Monday when she sentenced four men for the brutal killing of his friend Hannah Cornelius and the attempt on his life.

The 22-year-old sported an accessory to his usual diamond earrings - a new hearing aid, sponsored by a Sea Point ear specialist.

He heard Allie sentence Gerado Parsons, Vernon Witbooi and Eben van Niekerk to 25 years for their attempt on his life in May last year.

"I'm just relieved that justice has been served. I can't describe how I feel – I am just happy," he said, expressing his gratitude to all involved in "catching the guys" and bringing them to book.

Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk were sentenced to life imprisonment for Cornelius' murder, and life behind bars for her rape.

The pair also received 15 years for four counts of robbery and 10 years for the kidnapping of Marsh, Cornelius and Mimi October.

READ: 'Cruel, vengeful, vicious' - life sentences for Hannah Cornelius' murderers

Van Niekerk received life sentences for Cornelius' rape and murder, 20 years for each robbery because he had a prior robbery conviction, 10 years for kidnapping Marsh and Cornelius, eight years for kidnapping October and 20 years for the attempted murder of Marsh.

Julius was handed 15 years for two counts of robbery and seven years for the students' kidnapping. His sentences will run concurrently.

Cornelius' body was found on the morning of May 27, 2017, outside Stellenbosch.

Marsh was stoned and left for dead near Kraaifontein, while Cornelius was raped and later stabbed at Groenhof farm. A large rock was also thrown on her head.

Her VW Citi Golf was used in two armed robberies, before Witbooi and Parsons were apprehended after a high-speed chase.

Their two accomplices were arrested later.

It was considered miraculous that Marsh survived the attack.

Dr Taurai Gororo of Tygerberg Hospital, who had examined him, testified that he was lucky to be alive.

He suffered severe head injuries and lost the ability to hear in in his left ear.

But he considered Hannah's death as the biggest loss he experienced that morning.

Emotional testimony

They had been accosted by the four accused while they sat and chatted in her car outside his block of flats. She had insisted on driving him home after a night out in the student town.

He faced his attackers for the first time since identifying them during an ID parade when he testified as the State's first witness in October.

His emotional testimony was damning and arguably, the evidence which sealed his attackers' fate.

Cheslin Marsh with his new hearing aid. (Tammy Pet

Cheslin Marsh with his new hearing aid. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

 

He recounted to Allie that he saw a hand wielding a screwdriver come through the window, pointed straight at Cornelius' chest.

The man's accomplices had forced their way into the car and frisked them, before three of the four drove off with him and Hannah, whom he had met three months prior.

Parsons had promised to return Cornelius' blue Golf because they "just wanted to go home" - a lie which Marsh said Hannah appeared to believe.

'Everything will be okay'

At the Helshoogte Pass, he was forced into the boot of the car. He was allowed out at an open field in Bernadino Heights in Kraaifontein, where Witbooi and Parsons tried to murder him.

He was forced to lie on the ground before his attackers hurled bricks at his head until he lost consciousness.

Marsh was left for dead, but woke up early that morning and went to look for help.

He previously recounted his terror at seeing his attackers in the dock as they stared him down before he made his way onto the witness stand, but still managed to tearfully testify for three days.

Marsh told News24 that he finally met Cornelius' family during sentencing proceedings last week.

He felt sympathy for them. Hannah's mother and grandmother also died less than a year after her murder.

Her father, Willem, also shared some encouraging words with him, which he appreciated, Marsh said.

"Hannah's father told me: ', 'Don't worry Cheslin. Everything will be okay. You will study next year again. This won't hold you back.'"

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