The criminal trial of the men accused of raping and murdering Stellenbosch University student Hannah Cornelius is expected to resume in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
Eban van Niekerk, Geraldo Parsons, Vernon Witbooi and Nashville Julius allegedly accosted Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh in her VW Citi Golf in Stellenbosch in the early hours of May 27, 2017.
Cornelius was threatened with a screwdriver, while Marsh was forced into the backseat of his friend’s car at knifepoint.
Marsh was assaulted and left for dead while Cornelius was later raped and stabbed to death. The four accused are now standing trial for charges including murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
During a previous court appearance earlier in October, a letter written by one of the accused, intended for Cornelius’ parents was admitted into evidence following a trial-within-a-trial over the admissibility of the document.
“Don’t be angry with me, please,” wrote van Niekerk in the letter, which he now claims was written at the instruction of Stellenbosch police officer Sergeant Steven Adams.
The letter was written following his arrest, before he and his co-accused made their first appearance in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court.
Both the state and the defence agreed that the letter was more of an admission than it was a confession.
Ncumisa Qwina, who had been robbed of her bag after Cornelius’ murder, testified that the accused in a blue VW Citi Golf had robbed her that morning in Northpine at about 08:30.
She claimed two men had gotten out of the car and as she continued walking, she had a feeling she was being followed.
She started to run and fell, dropping her bag. She got up and fled, and the men picked up and took her belongings.