Three men who kidnapped, raped, and savagely killed a young college student will spend the rest of their lives in prison. After the verdict inside the Western Cape High Court in South Africa on Monday, the public erupted in applause as the killers were led to their destiny in prison.
Times Live reports that three of the four men on trial for the death of 21-year-old Hannah Cornelius were found guilty on 10 felony counts of robbery, kidnapping, and murder. Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were sentenced to 100 years each in prison. A fourth man, Nashville Julius, was sentenced to 22 years for “direct imprisonment for robbery and kidnapping.’
On March 22, as CrimeOnline previously reported, Hannah was carjacked and attacked while dropping her friend Cheslin Marsh off at his home close to Cape Town, South Africa. The defendants opened the doors of Hannah’s blue VW Golf outside of Cheslin’s apartment, forced their way into the car and abducted the pair.
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BREAKING: Life sentences for 3 found guilty of Hannah Cornelius' rape, murder | @TammyPetersen87 https://t.co/7twXfebTNY pic.twitter.com/qUZaZesOvq
— News24 (@News24) November 12, 2018
The convicts attacked Marsh first, robbing him of his phone and cash, before forcing both victims into their car. They then drove to a drug dealer’s house where they reportedly bought meth and got high.
For the next 11 hours, Hannah sat in the front seat of the car, between two of her killers as they went on a crime spree while smoking meth.
Afterward, they drove the pair to a remote area and pulled Cheslin out the car and into nearby bushes, according to court documents. They forced him to lay his head down, then smashed his head in with bricks and left him for dead.
The suspects then 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 after stabbing her in the neck.
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.”
Shortly after the incident, police went on a high-speed chase with the convicts for around for several hours until their capture. When questioned, Parsons reportedly said he never “had the chance to have sex” with Hannah. Witbooi, Julius and Van Nieberk reportedly admitted to robbery and kidnapping but insisted they never raped or killed anyone.
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.
Cheslin Marsh today also received his hearing aid. His mother Marilyn says it was donated by a Sea Point ear specialist. “He heard everything the judge said. Clearly.” #HannahCornelius @TeamNews24 pic.twitter.com/Tj1mpyfLMr
— Tammy Petersen (@TammyPetersen87) November 12, 2018
Hannah was a straight-A student at Stellenbosch University, where she was hoping to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Arts.
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[Feature Photo: Hannah Cornelius/Handout]