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New documentary on murder of Hannah Cornelius revisits brutal crime

29 March 2022 - 06:00

LAST BLUE RIDE is releasing on Showmax April 1, 2022.

As part of my work as a video journalist for TimesLIVE with a focus on crime-related news, I covered the horrendous murder of Hannah Cornelius, which took place in 2017.

Now a new true-crime documentary, Last Blue Ride: The Hannah Cornelius Story, is debuting on Showmax on April 1.

The kidnapping and murder of Cornelius, a student at the University of Stellenbosch, shocked the country. Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh were attacked while they sat in her blue Citi Golf outside Marsh’s residence in the early hours of the morning. 

CCTV captured four men approaching the vehicle, attacking the students and then driving away with them in Cornelius's car. What followed were a horrific 11 hours of assault, robbery and murder. 

The four men were caught on CCTV camera minutes before they kidnapped Hannah Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh.
CCTV The four men were caught on CCTV camera minutes before they kidnapped Hannah Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh.
Image: Screengrab from Last Blue Ride: The Hannah Cornelius Story

I have covered dozens of brutal crimes and their court cases, but the murder of Cornelius affected me the most.

In 2018, I produced an award-winning video for TimesLIVE that mapped Cornelius's last hours in great detail.

For the new documentary, I returned to the case as I wanted to spend more time documenting her life and the crime that destroyed her family.

Emotional interviews with her family and friends show the 21-year-old was a caring person loved by many.

I used a professional drone operator to film the re-enactment of the journey the kidnappers took with Cornelius and Marsh that evening. This resulted in an eerie, step-by-step retelling of the events, including snippets of court footage sourced from TimesLIVE.

Cheslin Marsh was brutally assaulted hours after he and Hannah Cornelius were kidnapped.
DRONE Cheslin Marsh was brutally assaulted hours after he and Hannah Cornelius were kidnapped.
Image: Screengrab from Last Blue Ride: The Hannah Cornelius Story

The court case revealed that the men who committed the brutal crimes were members of the notorious Numbers gang that operates in SA prisons. The list of their prior crimes ran to multiple pages.

The documentary, which includes interviews with journalists and a criminologist, also looks deeper into the Numbers gang and rehabilitation processes in SA's prison system to try to understand why the recidivism rate in SA is thought to be as high as 87%.

Although the documentary revisits the crime in often painful detail, I believe it succeeds in honouring Cornelius’s life and those she left behind.

Anthony Molyneaux and TimesLIVE's multiple-award-winning video segment on the coverage of Hannah Cornelius's murder.

Molyneaux is a senior video journalist at TimesLIVE and director and producer of Last Blue Ride: The Hannah Cornelius Story.


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