The family of 21 year old Hannah Cornelius has described the impact of her murder as devastating and appealed to the court to impose life without parole. Her father and aunt testified on Thursday in aggravation of sentence of the three men convicted of her rape and murder.
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were found guilty on 10 counts in the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday. The Cornelius family has suffered immense trauma since Hannah’s murder in May last year. Ten months after the Stellenbosch student’s death, her mother, Anna, drowned.
Hannah’s father, Willem, a former magistrate, testified that his family died with Hannah 18 months ago. Cornelius’s son is autistic.
“It’s a very difficult time especially being in court facing the perpetrators, it’s not easy for anyone but my mother and my uncle, Hannah’s father, really did us proud in there and said how they felt on behalf of the family and they summed it up pretty well. There’s a loss that will never be filled and there’s a gap that will always be there,” Cornelius Family Spokesperson Lali Van Zuydam.
Cheslin Marsh, who was Cornelius’s friend was brutally attacked on the same night. They were chatting in her car when they were hijacked and kidnapped.
He was stabbed and stoned and left for dead. “I’m coping with it but it’s not easy because it’s still in my mind and I’m still here – the one that survived, so I’m reliving it every day. But thanks to my mom and my family support I’m basically getting through it.”
The four men who committed the crimes all have previous convictions relating to robbery and theft. After killing Cornelius and attacking Marsh, they also robbed two other women in separate incidents. Sentencing will be handed down on Monday.
In another court related story, businessman and property mogul Jason Rohde has been found guilty of the murder of his wife Susan. Judgement was handed down by the Cape High Court.
The judge said the Spier hotel was the crime scene of a love triangle which had formed months before the murder in July 2016. She noted that Jason Rohde had testified in his defence with studied precision and was not a credible witness.
He has also been found guilty on a charge of defeating the ends of justice. Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said the evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Jason Rohde murdered his wife and then staged her death as a suicide.
“The court finds that you murdered the deceased and that you staged the scene to give the impression of a suicide. Furthermore, in light of the nature of the injuries, the manner and the cause of death, the court finds that you had the direct intention to kill the deceased. I therefore find you guilty on both charges, on both counts as charged. ”
Meanwhile an alleged middleman linked to the murder of prominent lawyer Pete Mihalik has appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. Vuyile Maliti was arrested on Wednesday; more than a week after Mihalik was assassinated outside a private school in Green Point.
Maliti appeared in the dock with his co-accused Sizwe Sinzokohle Biyela,and Nkosinathi Khumalo. Taking no chances, armed officers from the Specialised Gang Unit enforced tight security in and outside the court building.
The deceased, Advocate Mihalik, represented clients allegedly from the crime underworld. The three accused made a very brief appearance.
It is understood that the alleged middle man, Maliti is a taxi boss in the Khayelitsha area.
His co-accused, whom he had allegedly sourced to commit the murder, are from KwaZulu-Natal. They are being charged with murder, attempted murder, and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
The men are being held at different prisons for safety reasons. The matter has been remanded until Wednesday for one of the accused to obtain legal representation and for further investigation.