Horrific Gang Rape And Murder Of Woman Revealed In Shocking Testimony
Hannah Cornelius was out dancing with a friend one evening in May 2017 but just hours later she was dead.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
The trail for the murder of the 21-year-old is currently being heard at Cape Town high court in South Africa.
In graphic and shocking testimony, one of the four men accused of Cornelius' rape and murder admitted he is guilty of all ten charges against him.
Initially, Geraldo Pearsons and the three others accused -- Eben van Neikerk, Nashville Julius and Vernon Witbooi -- pleaded not guilty to the charges, but on Tuesday Pearsons changed his story.
In court, Pearsons gave a detailed description of the four men's movements on the night of May 27, 2017-- the night Hannah was killed.
Pearsons told the court he got home from work, got some money from his girlfriend and headed out to meet Eban van Niekerk. They were en route to an ATM when Vernon Witbooi joined them and the trio waited til midnight for Pearsons' money to become available. It was at this time that the fourth man, Nashville Julius, joined them.
Pearsons and Julius had never met before. They all headed to a placed called Lavanda Flats in Cape Town.
"We saw police vans ahead of us so we decided to walk a different path," Pearsons told the court.
"Then we saw this blue and white Citi Golf parked. I wasn’t sure if there were people inside but the lights were on. I said we should look inside‚ let’s take the car.
“We walked past the car. Vernon said there was a woman and a man inside and he said we should rob them. So we approached them from the back. We both approached the passenger side. I had a knife with me and I gave it to Vernon."
Hannah Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh were inside the car when the four men attacked, demanding their money, phones and bank pin numbers. Pearson said it was his intention to drop them off after robbing them and steal the car.
Nashville left the group at this point.
Witbooi asked Marsh for his pin number but when he tried to access the account found no money inside. Frustrated, Witbooi forced Marsh into the boot of the car. Hannah remained in the car with the three remaining men.
The men drove the car to a different suburb where they knew a drug dealer. They planned to tie Marsh up until sunrise, but Vernon allegedly suggested they kill him. Vernon allegedly told Marsh to lie on his stomach and threw a brick at his head.
Once the group thought he was dead they left his body and drove off with Hannah still in the car. They moved her to the back seat and out of view so any passers-by wouldn't think their behaviour was suspicious.
“We continued driving. Vernon was on the back seat with Hannah," Pearsons told the court on Tuesday.
"While I was driving‚ Vernon gave me a condom‚ I don’t know where he got it from. Vernon said Hannah said we can have sex with her but then we must leave her after that. I saw it in her eyes that she was terrified. She said we can have sex but I saw she didn’t want to.
"We smoked a pipe and asked who would be first. I said I would be first. I had sex with her but it didn’t feel right because I have a girlfriend with children‚ but I did it."
All three men allegedly raped Cornelius, then put her in the boot of the car and drove her to a farm, where they planned to drop her off.
When she refused to get out of the car, Neikirk allegedly stabbed her.
“Then I saw Vernon arrive with a rock. Vernon tripped Hannah as she was standing. And she fell. I told Vernon‚ ‘don’t kill her‚ we’ve already killed Cheslin‚ let’s leave her’. But Vernon threw the rock on Hannah’s head," Pearsons said.
Once she was dead, the group's crime spree continued.
The trio then allegedly robbed a number of other woman so they could access more money after the murder of Cornelius.
Eventually, police tracked down the car. They arrested Vernon, but Pearson ran from the vehicle and hid at a nearby farm.
Workers tipped off the police and Pearson was captured as well.
The case continues to be heard in the Cape Town high court.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. A range of domestic and family violence resources based around the country can be found here.
Featured Image: Facebook/ Hannah Cornelius.
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