Jamie Pyatt, Daily Mail, October 15, 2018
A brilliant student was kidnapped, gang raped and murdered after giving a pal a lift home to stop robbers stealing his skateboard, a court in South Africa heard.
Hannah Cornelius, 21, pulled up outside the flat of fellow student Cheslin Marsh, 22, at midnight when a group of four men rushed her car.
They put a screwdriver to her chest through the open window and opened the passenger door and put a knife to the back of Mr Marsh and threatened to kill him.
The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town heard one of the gang shouted at him: ‘Sit still or she dies’.
Mr Marsh was robbed of cash and his phone and locked in the car boot and then the four men drove to a drug dealers home to buy drugs and smoked crystal meth.
Magistrates’ daughter Hannah was wedged between two of the four men in the back seat of the VW Golf which her grandmother had given to her as a birthday present.
They then drove out of the upmarket wine producing town of Stellenbosch near Cape Town in Hannah’s car and it later pulled over and they took Mr Marsh into the bushes.
Three men made him lay his head on a rock on the ground and then battered his skull with house bricks until they thought he was dead then left his blood soaked body.
That afternoon Marsh recovered consciousness and staggered to a nearby home suffering severe head injuries and a broken arm to raise the alarm about Hannah.
Unknown to him her body had been found earlier several miles away dumped by the roadside and a huge police search was already underway for him and the gang.
She had been dragged into bushes at a vineyard and gang raped by three of the men and then her skull was crushed with a large rock and she was stabbed in the neck.
Hannah was described as a ‘brilliant student’ and the daughter of magistrate Willem Cornelius and lawyer wife Anna, 56, who tragically drowned 10 months after her murder.
Victim Hannah was a straight A’s student and was in her second year at Stellenbosch University studying for a BA in Humanities when she was gang raped and murdered.
Four men Vernon Witbooi, 33, Geraldo Parsons, 27, Nashville Julius, 29, and Eben Van Nieberk, 28, face a string of charges including murder, kidnap, robbery and rape.
Distraught fellow student Cheslin Marsh broke down in tears repeatedly as he told how they were hijacked and he was locked in the boot while Hannah was kept inside the car.
He said they had been out for a few drinks and to a dance and said he was going to use his skateboard to get home but Hannah insisted on driving him in case he was robbed.
Mr Marsh said when they pulled up the gang pounced threatening to stab Hannah to death with a sharpened screwdriver and him to death with a knife placed at his back.
He described how they were driven to a suburb of Cape Town called Kraaifontein 11 miles from where they were hijacked in Stellenbosch and he was pulled from the car boot.
He said: ‘I lay down on the ground as they told me and put my head on a rock. I closed my eyes and I prayed. The two men were standing over me with bricks in their hands.
‘I lost consciousness and when I woke I was in horrible pain, everywhere pain. When I last heard Hannah talking her voice was very soft and I could tell she was scared’.
He managed to stagger to a nearby house covered in blood and raise the alarm.
Mr Marsh was so traumatised he never returned to his studies and is now deaf in one ear as a result of his injuries and vivid scars could be seen on his head as he gave evidence.
One of the men accused of the murder of Hannah had his confession made the day after his arrest read to the court and said the gang went into town ‘to see what they could get’.
Witbooi alleged the other three took Mr Marsh out the boot while he had a ‘smoke’ and into the bushes and said they told him they had tied him up and left him to be found.
He said he was ‘only after money’ and said after Mr Marsh was left for dead the gang drove off and later took Hannah into bushes but denied any part in her rape and murder.
Witbooi said that three others returned from the bushes after raping Hannah and said: ‘While we were driving Parsons said I had missed out on having had sex with her.
‘He said they had tied the girl up and that the workers would find her tomorrow’ he said.
The gang then high on drugs went on a robbery spree in the hijacked car robbing at least three women before the stolen car was spotted and a high speed police chase began.
Three were arrested after dumping the car and fleeing and the fourth was arrested later.
The latest crime figures in South Africa revealed that 56 people are murdered a day and that 110 people are raped a day and that there are 45 carjackings a day.