Court jeers as rapist murderers are jailed for life
Three men found guilty of the violent rape and murder of South African student Hannah Cornelius were jeered in court as they were led away to serve life sentences.
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben Van Niekerk, on trial in the Western Cape High Court, were sentenced yesterday to jail terms of more than 100 years for each of four counts of robbery, three counts of kidnapping and an attempted murder, according to TimesLive.
The three men also received two life sentences each for raping and murdering 21-year-old Cornelius, who had been with friend Cheslin Marsh when she was abducted.
Marsh was violently assaulted and hit with bricks before being left for dead.
A fourth offender, Nashville Julius, was found guilty of only the victims’ robbing and kidnapping and is believed to have fled the scene prior to Cornelius’s rape and murder.
He received a 22-year jail sentence.
As the sentences were read out and the four offenders were led away from the court, onlookers seated above the dock jeered and applauded.
Last month the High Court heard Cornelius, a student at the prestigious Stellenbosch University, had been struck so hard on the head by a giant rock during the attack that she died almost instantly.
It appeared Cornelius had been hit twice on the head with a heavy object while someone had held the right side of her skull as she was on the ground.
The 21-year-old was also stabbed in the neck with either a screwdriver or knife and she also suffered genital injuries.
The four accused had confronted the two victims while they were in Cornelius’s VW Citi Golf in Stellenbosch on May 27, 2017, according to South Africa’s News24.
The two victims were robbed, before Julius left the scene and Marsh was forced into the boot of the car.
Marsh was then driven into a field, assaulted and stoned with bricks before being left for dead by the group. He eventually managed to escape with head injuries and a broken arm.
After being driven to another separate location in bushland, Cornelius was then raped by the remaining three offenders, stabbed twice in the neck and killed.
Outside of the court, Marsh said he felt relieved that the sentence had finally been handed down and also thanked his supporters.
“It feels like an episode of my life I can close. I feel like I can go on a break now,” he said.
“It’s really amazing to know there’s so much support out there and so much love.
“People have given me so much love and support and I can’t even say thank you because it won’t be enough. The only thing I can do is my future.”
Now 22, he said he plans on returning to his university studies, but would not say what course he plans to take up.
As the offenders were led from the court, the four men appeared emotionless apart from Witbooi, who was seen shaking his head.