Audible gasps from people inside a Cape Town high court were heard on Thursday when the prosecution showed the murder weapon allegedly used to kill a college student after she was robbed and brutally raped.
Daily Star reports that on March 22, Hannah Cornelius, 21, was carjacked and attacked while dropping her friend off at his home close to Cape Town, South Africa. The defendants, identified as Vernon Witbooi, 33, Geraldo Parsons, 27, Nashville Julius, 29, and Eben Van Nieberk, 28, forced their way into Hannah’s car, abducting her and friend, Cheslin Marsh.
The murder of 21-year-old Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius’s shocked South Africa. https://t.co/Aecs1WWHP7
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) October 17, 2018
The defendants reportedly attacked Marsh first, robbing him of his phone and cash, before forcing both victims into their car. They drove to a drug dealer’s house where they reportedly bought meth and got high. Afterward, they drove the pair to a remote area and pulled Cheslin out the car and into some bushes, according to court documents. They forced him to lay his head down, then allegedly smashed his head in with bricks and left him for dead.
The men accused of raping and murdering Hannah Cornelius put hands over their gaping mouths as the meaning of their tattoos was described. https://t.co/pRoRpe3mPj
— Sunday Times (@SundayTimesZA) October 18, 2018
The suspects then allegedly took Hannah into the bushes as well, where some of them took turns gang raping her. When they were finished, they found a massive rock wedged in a waterhole, then pushed the rock to where the victim was, lifted it up and dropped it on her head. Forensic pathologist Dr. Deidre Abraham testified that the rock was dropped onto the victim’s face at least twice, causing fatal blows.
“The skull is made up of very strong bones indeed. It is not easy for a skull to break or crack unless a lot of power is used to actually break the skull. The blunt force injuries to her head were very rapidly fatal.”
— Sunday Times (@SundayTimesZA) October 16, 2018
Many of the people inside the courtroom let out gasps when the prosecutor unveiled the large boulder, revealing a humongous rock that weighs 82 pounds.
Shortly after the incident, police went on a high-speed chase with the suspects until their capture. When questioned, Parsons reportedly said he never “had the chance to have sex” with Hannah. The accused are facing charges which include kidnapping, murder, robbery, and rape. Witbooi, Julius and Van Nieberk reportedly admitted to robbery and kidnapping but insisted they never raped or killed anyone.
Cheslin Marsh was robbed, kidnapped and then severely beaten allegedly by men appearing in the Western Cape high court for the murder of Hannah Cornelius. Marsh and Cornelius were attacked in the early hours of May 27 2017 in Stellenbosch. 🎥 @AJGMolyneaux #HannahCornelius pic.twitter.com/hIJPWHriK9
— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) October 11, 2018
Cheslin survived the ordeal but he’s now deaf in one ear and has visible scars. The emotional scarring has been just as severe for him. Cheslin never returned to school after the incident.
Hannah was a straight-A student at Stellenbosch University, where she was hoping to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Arts.
The trial is scheduled to continue. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Hannah Cornelius/Handout]