Mom’s tragic end at sea

The body of Anna Cornelius was found in shallow water at Scarborough beach on Sunday.

The foundation Hannah Cornelius’s parents started after their daughter’s rape and murder will continue its work following the death of Hannah’s mother at the weekend.

Lily Reed, the Hannah Cornelius Foundation’s CEO, said the trust would carry on helping women and children in poor communities across the Cape Peninsula, after the death of co-founder Anna Cornelius’, 57, on Sunday March 27.

The trust was established in October last year by Ms Cornelius and her husband, Simon’s Town chief magistrate Willem Cornelius, after 21-year-old Hannah was kidnapped, raped and murdered in May.

Anna’s death comes less than a year after her daughter’s body was found on the side of a road near a wine farm outside Stellenbosch, where she had attended university.

Ms Reed said Anna had been an avid swimmer, and, after suffering from a chest and throat infection last week, had gone for a swim at Scarborough beach at about 7am on Sunday, her first since falling ill.

Beachgoers spotted her body floating in shallow water, and the the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) pulled it from the water at about 9am.

“The family is awaiting the coroner’s report, but no foul play is suspected, and her death is being treated as an accidental shallow-water drowning,” Ms Reed said.

Kommetjie NSRI station commander Ian Klopper said Ms Cornelius’s body had been found about 150 metres offshore.

“NSRI paramedics declared her dead at the scene from a suspected drowning,” he said.

Her body was taken to the sea rescue station where it was collected by the Forensic Pathology Service.

Police spokeswoman Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said an inquest docket had been opened.

Ms Reed described Ms Cornelius as an “amazing person full of light, love and energy,” he said.

She had been driven to ensure Hannah’s legacy would be remembered and had wanted help young people escape difficult circumstances.

“She had every reason to live.”

Ms Reed said the foundation had recently acquired premises in Ocean View which was being renovated to be used as a youth hub and Anna was very excited about it.

“The Hannah Cornelius Foundation will continue and draw strength from Anna’s amazing spirit and courage and Hannah’s compassionate and caring soul,” Ms Reed said.

Ms Cornelius leaves behind her son Dries, 18, and husband, Willem.

Her funeral will be held at the Dutch Reformed Church in Fish Hoek on Tuesday April 3, at 11am. The public is welcome to attend.

The family has asked that any flowers, cards and gifts be donated in kind to the Hannah Cornelius Foundation.

The four men accused of raping and killing Hannah appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Friday March 23 for a pre-trial hearing and they are expected back in the dock in April.