'Who does something like that?' mother asks Hannah Cornelius's killers
The family of murdered student Hannah Cornelius arrived in court holding white flowers as sentencing proceedings got under way against her killers on Thursday.
For some family members it was their first day in court – on what could be the last day of a murder trial that stunned South Africa.
Cornelius, a 21-year-old student, was found dead on a farm 20km outside of Stellenbosch on May 27 2017.
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk all face possible life imprisonment after being found guilty by Judge Roshnie Allie on Wednesday for robbing‚ kidnapping‚ raping and murdering Cornelius.
They were also found guilty of the attempted murder of her friend Cheslin Marsh‚ and of robbing and kidnapping two other women in separate incidents, Miemie October and Ncumisa Qwina.
Throughout the trial the men laughed as they watched each other testify and gawked at witnesses and journalists.
A fourth man, Nashville Julius, was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping.
“I feel a bit relieved that it’s sort of over. Without the help of my family and Hannah’s family and people supporting me I don’t think it would have been possible,” Marsh told Times Select.
The first witness to take the stand in the Cape Town High Court on Thursday was Cheslin’s mother, Marilyn Marsh.
“Who does something like that to a person? My son did nothing to you,” she said, speaking directly to the convicted men in the dock.
The first thing her son had said to her when she saw him covered in blood at Tygerberg Hospital was, “Please tell the police to go look for Hannah, they are going to hurt her.”
She stayed with her son for two weeks at the hospital due to the extent of his injuries after the attack.
Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were found guilty by Judge Rosheni Allie on November 7 2018 in the Western Cape high court. The fourth accused in the matter, Nashville Julius was found guilty on robbery and kidnapping charges. Sentencing is due to take place on November 8 2018.