Attackers behind horror South African rape and murder found guilty
Four men accused of the violent robbing, kidnapping, rape and murder of student Hannah Cornelius, and the attempted murder of her friend Cheslin Marsh, have been found guilty in a South African court.
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben Van Niekerk and Nashville Julius were on trial in the Western Cape High Court for threatening and kidnapping the two victims, before assaulting and stabbing Marsh and then raping and strangling Cornelius to death.
Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk were found guilty of robbing, kidnapping, raping and murdering Cornelius, as well as the attempted murder of Marsh, according to TimesLive.
Julius was found guilty of the robbery and kidnapping of the two victims.
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, 22, 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.
Earlier in the trial, two technicians - Conrad Booysen and Flippie Matthee - testified they had placed a massive rock over a borehole on a farm near Stellenbosch during repairs to a pump on May 26‚ 2017, the eve of the attack.
Booysen testified that the rock had been too heavy for him to pick up, and that Matthee had manhandled it over the hole.
When they returned the following morning, the pair found the worksite a mess and what appeared to be a white bag.
“I said Conrad, there is a white bag,” said Booysen.
“He said ‘no’, but I said: ‘Conrad, there’s a person lying there’. He said: ‘no’. He said: ‘it looks like a doll’.”
The four accused men appeared emotionless in the dock while the verdict was being read.
Sentencing is expected to begin today (local time).