Two men in their 30s have been arrested for the murder of 21-year-old Scarborough resident Hannah Cornelius and the attempted murder of her friend.
Geraldo Parsens, 26, and Vernon Witbooi, 32, appeared in Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court on Monday May 29, on charges of murder, attempted murder rape and hijacking. They will remain in custody until Friday July 28 for a bail hearing. It emerged in court that Mr Witbooi also faces charges related to another case.
Ms Cornelius – the daughter of Willem Cornelius, the chief magistrate of Simon’s Town – was a regular volunteer at The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) and a gifted pianist.
She and a friend, Cheslin Marsh, were talking in her blue Citi Golf
in Bird Street, Stellenbosch, when they were hijacked in the early hours of Friday morning. Both stu-
dents were robbed of all their belongings.
According to the charge sheet, Ms Cornelius was also raped before she was stabbed and strangled. Her body was found near a farm in Stellenbosch at 8.30am on Satur-
Mr Marsh had been locked in the car boot throughout, and was then driven to Kraaifontein, where he escaped with head injuries and was later taken to hospital.
Ms Cornelius’s uncle, Andries Cornelius, said: “It was with great shock and sadness that we learnt of the tragic death of our beloved Hannah Cornelius. The family does not have all the facts surrounding her death as yet. They’ve been advised to await the full report from the authorities. The amount of support the family has been receiving is testimony to what an amazing, loving and beautiful person our Hannah was. The family has requested that their privacy be respected at this very difficult time.”
University of Stellenbosch rector Professor Wim de Villiers said the campus community was “shocked by this senseless death and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the student who lost her life, as well as the student who was in-
Reddam House principal David Clark said Hannah had matriculated with six distinctions and an average above 85%.
He said Ms Cornelius had been an exceptional drama student and had made the world a better place. Her death was a tragedy and he hoped the law would take its course and that the perpetrators would get what was coming their way.
A service will be held for Ms Cornelius at the Fish Hoek Dutch Reformed Church at 11am on Friday June 2 – Additional reporting by the Cape Argus and Cape Times