The kidnapping, gang-rape, and brutal murder of a young, beautiful student with her entire life ahead of her captured international attention as the gruesome details leading up to her death were finally being revealed. When the court thought they heard the worst of it, however, they were left gasping in shock and horror to see the murder weapon used to snuff out the young woman’s life.
Hannah Cornelius was just 21 when her life was cut short in perhaps the most horrific way imaginable. The gifted South African university student died during an attack in Stellenbosch, South Africa after she and her friend were carjacked by four men. Following her tragic death, Vernon Witbooi, 33, Geraldo Parsons, 27, Nashville Julius, 29, and Eben Van Nieberk, 28, stand accused of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and rape.
Hannah and a male friend named Cheslin Marsh, 22, were kidnapped after she gave him a lift home one night at midnight, Daily Mail reported. Hannah was parking her blue VW Golf, a gift from her grandmother, outside Marsh’s residence when a gang of four men attacked them, opening both car doors. They then put a screwdriver to Hannah’s chest and a knife to the Marsh’s back, threatening to kill him.
March was allegedly told, “Sit still or she dies,” by one of the men in the gang. He was robbed of his cash and his phone before being locked in the trunk of the car. The gang then drove to a drug dealer’s house to buy drugs and smoked crystal meth as Hannah was wedged between two of the four men in the back seat of the VW while the gang drove out of Stellenbosch.
They eventually pulled over and took Marsh into the bushes. They made him lay his head on a rock on the ground, where they battered his skull with bricks. The brutal assault only stopped when the gang was convinced that he was dead. Although he would live, Hannah would not be so lucky after the gang set their sites on her next.
The young student was dragged from her car and at least three of the men took turns gangraping her in what was described in court as an “extremely painful” ordeal. Her autopsy revealed, she suffered severe vaginal and cervical injuries in the prolonged attack.
When they were done with her, the monsters held Hannah down and crushed her skull with a large two-foot, 82-pound boulder and stabbed her in the neck. The large rock was slammed down on Hannah Cornelius’s head twice, bludgeoning her to death, the court was told as the murder weapon was produced.
The boulder smashed Hannah’s skull, killing her instantly. However, to make sure there was no chance she would live, one of her killers plunged a knife into her neck. They then left her body in the dirt with her pants pulled down.
Struggling, “two strong security guards” lifted the chilling exhibit onto a desk in the courtroom at the Western High Court in Cape Town as “loud gasps” of shock and terror emerged from members of the public gallery who were horrified by the size of the alleged murder weapon, according to Daily Mail. It is believed that several of the gang members lifted the huge rock and dropped it on Hannah’s head.
“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,” Dr. Deidre Abraham, the forensic pathologist who carried out the autopsy on Hannah, explained. “The blunt force injuries to her head were very rapidly fatal.”
Three of the defendants — Witbooi, Julius, and Van Nieberk — admit that they were present but claimed they only robbed the pair and did not commit the rape or murder. The suspects were arrested after going on a robbery spree, high on drugs, in the hijacked car, robbing at least three women after allegedly murdering Hannah before the stolen car was spotted and a highspeed police chase began.
While Parson’s has a grotesque tattoo of a naked headless female with legs spread open, both he and Witbooi also have prison tattoos displaying the number 28, which is of significance, according to investigating officer Sergeant Marlon Appolis.
The number 28 allegedly relays their role as “wives” for others while in prison. “To use the word of the street the 28’s take men from behind,” Appolis bluntly explained, Sunday Times reported. As Appolis made his remarks regarding their tattoos in court, the men accused of murdering Hannah were seen putting their hands over their gaping mouths.
Hannah Cornelius was the daughter of magistrate Willem Cornelius and a straight A student in her second year at Stellenbosch University. Her bright future was tragically ended when she was attacked and murdered by these monsters.
Sadly, according to crime figures, there are plenty of evil men just like these in South Africa, where 45 carjackings occur a day as 56 people are murdered and 110 are raped. Perhaps it’s time to bring back the capital punishment they decided to abolish in 1995 since prison doesn’t seem to bother monsters like this.