Sat, 24 August, 2019

Murder Trial Of Hannah Cornelius Continues

From left are Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius. The trial of the men, accused of the muder, kidnapping and rape of Hannah Cornelius, resumed on Tuesday. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN: The trial of four suspects accused of murdering Maties student Hannah Cornelius resumes on Tuesday at the Western Cape High Court. One of the accused Eben van Niekerk took a stand on Wednesday. He claimed he was forced to write a letter to Cornelius’s parents. But  Sergeant Steven Adams maintained it was Van Niekerk who had asked for a pen and paper.

“That is untrue your honour,” Sergeant Steven Adams told the court.

“Your honour, I didn’t even know he was going to write a letter. He just asked for a pen and paper.”

After Adams had taken Van Niekerk to a doctor, a news report about Cornelius’s death was on the radio.

“Am I in trouble?” Van Niekerk asked, according to Adams.

Adams said he did not even know what Van Niekerk was under investigation for at the time and said he didn’t know.

Once he put Van Niekerk back in a cell, the accused asked for a pen and some paper. The sergeant gave it to him and carried on with his work.

Van Niekerk later gave Adams a letter, which the sergeant claimed he gave to his branch commander the following day. However, Van Niekerk disputes that this is what happened.

His advocate, Dudley Johnson, said the letter that Van Niekerk signed was “made under duress” at Adams’s instructions and without Van Niekerk being read his rights.

Adams said the claim was not true but admitted that he didn’t personally read Van Niekerk his rights because he didn’t know what he was going to do with the pen and paper.

Cornelius’s mother died in March this year. Her body was found floating at Scarborough beach. Her father is retired Simon’s Town magistrate Willem Cornelius.

Van Niekerk, Nashville Julies, Vernon Witbooi and Geraldo Parsons have been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape, and for the severe attack on Cornelius’s friend, Cheslin Marsh, who survived.

They are also accused of robbing another woman of her handbag on May 27, 2017 – the day Cornelius was found dead.