Hannah Cornelius

Grieving mother of 21-year-old woman who was brutally gang-raped and stoned to death went out to sea ‘and didn’t return,’ father says

The father of a young South African woman who was gang-raped by three men and then stoned to death faced his daughter’s killers in court this week.

Speaking to the court, Willem Cornelius said his wife, Anna, 56, was never the same after Hannah Cornelius’ May 2017 rape and murder. The grieving father recalled how, 10 months after the 21-year-old’s death, Anna walked into the frigid Atlantic Ocean and never returned.

“I do not believe that she committed suicide… but what I do believe is that she did not have the physical or mental strength left to counter any difficulties that she may have experienced,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

“Me and my son are not a family—we are the survivors who live in the ruins of what once was.”

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On Wednesday, three men, Geraldo Parsons, 27, Vernon Witbooi, 33, and Eben van Niekerk, 28, were found guilty of raping and murdering Hannah and kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder of her friend, Cheslin Marsh, 22. A fourth man, Nashville Julius, 29, was convicted of kidnapping and carjacking Hannah and Marsh.

The men carjacked Cornelius and Marsh before stoning Marsh and leaving him for dead. In an unexpected courtroom confession, Parsons revealed that the 21-year-old begged them not to kill her after raping her—but they did anyway.

According to Times Live, Parsons claimed van Niekerk stabbed Hannah after she refused to exit the car at a vineyard. Witbooi then beat her in the head with a large rock as she lay on her stomach, he said.

The Weekend Argus reported that the State has asked for the court to hand down the maximum sentence to the three men convicted of Hannah’s rape and murder. While the men blamed drugs for their behavior, state prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst described them as calculated and “goal-directed.”

“Drugs did not impair their cognitive ability,” he said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Monday.

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[Featured Image: Hannah Cornelius/Handout]