Hannah Cornelius’s killers deserve no leniency‚ court told

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The lawyers could only ask the court to consider the men’s youthfulness‚ being pressured into join gangs and their lack of education when handing down sentence.

The defence counsel said drug use could also have impelled the men to go on an orgy of crime in Stellenbosch in May last year.

On Wednesday‚ the high court convicted Vernon Witbooi‚ Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk of robbing‚ kidnapping‚ raping and murdering Cornelius‚ a Stellenbosch student.

They were also found guilty of the attempted murder of her friend‚ Cheslin Marsh‚ and of robbing and kidnapping Miemie October and Ncumisa Qwina.

Nashville Julius‚ the fourth accused‚ was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping Marsh and Cornelius.

Prosecutor Lenro Badenhost said the men’s criminal histories and the seriousness of the crimes warranted harsh sentences without the option of parole.

Their extensive criminal records include house breaking‚ theft‚ possession of drugs and robbery. Van Niekerk is currently serving time for robbery.

Badenhost said the men deserved life sentences for gang rape.

“The seriousness of this offence‚ which involved an armed gang patrolling the streets of Stellenbosch to kidnap unsuspecting victims [means that] the accused should receive appropriate sentences‚” said Badenhost.

“[They] invaded the human rights of Mr Marsh and Miss Cornelius. The court should consider these offences to be serious… [and] should consider retribution for these offences.”

The men accused of raping and murdering Hannah Cornelius.
Image: Aron Hyman

Badenhorst said there was no indication that the men used drugs before committing the offences.

“But what we know is that the reason they embarked on this act was for money for drugs‚” he said. “If you take into consideration [what their victims encountered is] beyond imagination – the trauma they went through that night.

“I must submit it must have been a horrendous experience. The court cannot allow armed gangs to patrol the streets.”

Judge Rosheni Allie will sentence the men on Monday.

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