Murder 21-year-old Hannah Cornelius. Picture: Supplied
Murder 21-year-old Hannah Cornelius. Picture: Supplied

Hannah Cornelius's killers allegedly operate Facebook accounts from behind bars

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Feb 20, 2020

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Cape Town - Two men convicted of murdering 21-year-old Stellenbosh University student Hannah Cornelius have been operating Facebook accounts from behind bars.

It has emerged that Vernon Witbooi and Geraldo Parsons, sentenced in 2018 for kidnapping, murder and rape, have had internet access and been using cellphones while serving their sentences.

Cornelius’s family has expressed outrage at this, and said when they raised the issue with the Department of Correctional Services they were not taken seriously.

Lali Meintjes, Cornelius’s cousin, said: “This is something we have raised with the Department of Correctional Services a few times. We first found out about (a Facebook) account being open while the trial was still on, but then it was closed down. And now we know about these accounts.

“And we have tried to find out what exactly is going on from the Department of Justice, but they have not been responding to us.”

The family was devastated after finding out that the convicted men had contact with the outside world.

“It is very disheartening for us as a family because they have so much access and we as a family will never get to see Hannah again. The rules do not seem to apply to them.”

In November 2018 Witbooi and Parsons were sentenced to 115 years each, with two life sentences, for the rape and murder of Cornelius.

Chilling details of Cornelius’s final hours were heard during their trial.

She was beaten into submission, and forced into a car by her attackers before they drove off. She was eventually raped and murdered.

Cornelius and her friend, Cheslin Marsh, were accosted while in Cornelius’s Citi Golf in the early hours of May 27, 2017.

Marsh sustained severe injuries.

In March 2018, beachgoers found Cornelius’s mother, Anna Cornelius, dead in shallow water at a Scarborough beach. Meintjes said the family was still struggling to come to terms with Cornelius’s murder. “It does not get easy after the passing of Hannah’s mom; our family is broken and nothing can mend it.”

Parsons’s Facebook profile shows he joined Facebook in January last year, and that he is engaged to be married. He describes himself in his profile as, “a kind and loving person just 2 my wife 2Be (sic)”.

Witbooi has been using the alias Vernito Azante. He posted: “No matter how hard it gonna be I’m man enough to face what comes my way course I’m a chosen one (sic).”

Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department would investigate. Use of cellphones by inmates was “a breach of our security system and it constitutes a criminal offence”, he said.

Two men convicted of murdering 21-year-old Stellenbosh University student Hannah Cornelius have been operating Facebook accounts from behind bars. Picture: Supplied
Two men convicted of murdering 21-year-old Stellenbosh University student Hannah Cornelius have been operating Facebook accounts from behind bars. Picture: Supplied
@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus

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