Chilling plea of gang rape victim
ONE of the four men accused of violently abducting, raping and murdering a South African university student broke down in court as he revealed the final plea she made to her attackers before being killed.
Geraldo Parsons, along with his co-accused, originally pleaded not guilty to the murder of Hannah Cornelius, 21, and attempted murder of her friend Cheslin Marsh, 22, near Cape Town last year.
However, the 27-year-old's story changed when he was called to the witness stand and made an unexpected confession.
Parsons testified that as the group drove a terrified Ms Cornelius to an unknown spot she begged the men not to kill her after they "have sex with her", according to Times Live.
The attack occurred in May 2017 as Ms Cornelius was dropping Mr Marsh off at his home in Stellenbosch after a night out when the group of men allegedly approached the car and threatened them with a knife and sharpened screw driver.
Parsons, Vernon Witbooi, 33, Nashville Julius, 29, and Eben van Niekerk, 28 are facing multiple charges including murder, kidnap, rape and robbery.
The accused told the court the group only intended on stealing the car and robbing the people inside but things took a different turn after driving the victims around while to buy drugs with the stolen money.
The court heard they took Mr Cheslin out of the car and Witbooi ordered him to lie on his stomach before telling Parsons "we must kill this guy".
Parsons claimed Witbooi had two bricks in his hands and threw them at Mr Cheslin's head before driving off, believing they had killed him.
The group allegedly drove to another spot where they planned to drop the 21-year-old off.
"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," a weeping Parsons told the court.
"I saw it in her eyes that she was terrified. She said we can have sex but I saw she didn't want to."
He claimed he was the first to rape Ms Cornelius, before Witbooi and van Niekerk, but "it didn't feel right" because he had a wife and child.
The accused claimed he told Witbooi to let the woman go afterwards but they put her in the boot of the car and drove her to a nearby vineyard. When they reopened the boot Ms Cornelius allegedly refused to get out, clinging on to the car.
"Eben came up and stabbed her. I let her go as the blood started to spill," Times Live reported Parsons saying.
"Then I saw Vernon arrive with a rock. 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."
In earlier evidence as pathologist Dr Deidre Abrahams told the court that the impact from the rock would have killed her instantly.
She also had significant injuries to her genital area, with Dr Abrahams saying the sexual assault would have been "a very painful experience".
Mr Marsh returned to consciousness the next day having suffered severe head injuries and a broken arm.
He made his way to a nearby home where he raised the alarm about Ms Cornelius, but by that time she had already been found dead several kilometres away.
After the alleged rape and murder of Ms Cornelius, the gang went on a robbery spree in the hijacked car robbing at least three women before the stolen car was spotted and a high speed police chase began.
Three were arrested after dumping the car and fleeing and the fourth was arrested later.
- If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence or sexual assault, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).