From left are Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
From left are Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Cornelius trial: DNA found on used condoms of unknown suspect

Time of article published Oct 18, 2018

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Cape Town – The murder trial of Hannah Cornelius heard on Thursday that an unknown suspect was involved in the attack on the Stellenbosch student.

The investigating officer made this conclusion in the Western Cape High Court due to DNA found on used condoms at the site where Cornelius was raped before she was murdered, News24 reported.

Sergeant Marlon Appollis said the DNA of an unknown male was found near the Bottelary Sports Club where Cornelius was raped in the early hours of May 27, 2017. The suspect is not known to the State.

Appollis, a seasoned detective who has 12 years' experience, also pointed out the accused in CCTV footage retrieved from Battery Centre in Stellenbosch that night.

"I know the accused. I have dealt with them before," he testified.

In his confession, one of the accused, Vernon Witbooi, said that after hijacking Cornelius's blue City Golf in Bird Street last year, they drove to Kraaifontein and went to the house of one "Kaffirtjie", who gave them tik and dagga, which they smoked while driving in the car.

Witbooi claimed that – after the attack on Cornelius's friend, Cheslin Marsh – he, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and "Kaffirtjie" had driven towards Stellenbosch.

On the way, they smoked and pulled over in a bushy area where Parsons said they would "have sex with the girl".

He said Parsons, Van Niekerk and "Kaffirtjie" took her into the bushes while he sat in the car and smoked.

They returned some time later and while driving, Parsons told Witbooi he had "missed out" and that he had been first, Van Niekerk second and "Kaffirtjie" third "when they had had sex with her".

The three had, according to Witbooi, stopped at a spot where there were vineyards and took Cornelius "into the dark".

The men, along with Nashville Julius, allegedly accosted Cornelius and Marsh in the early hours of that morning.

A screwdriver was used to threaten Cornelius and Marsh was forced into the back seat of his friend's car at knifepoint. She had been raped and stabbed to death.

TimesLive reported that the tattoos of Witbooi and Parsons also took centre stage on Thursday. Both had prison tattoos with the number 28 on different parts of their bodies.

Parsons’ tattoos also included crossed swords‚ a gun‚ a grotesque sketch of a naked headless female body with legs spread open‚ and stars on his shoulders depicting his gang rank.

Asked what he knew about the tattoos‚ Appolis was reluctant to reply‚ saying it was “crass”‚ but Judge Rosheni Allie encouraged him to speak his mind.

“To use the words we’d use on the street‚ the 28s take men from behind‚” he said. Witbooi and Parsons laughed and gave Judge Rosheni Allie a look of incredulity.

During a tea break‚ the accused, still sitting in the dock, told TimesLIVE this was not true. “Everyone does that (tattoos) in the prison‚” said Witbooi.

Parsons also said he was looking forward to returning home after the trial to his wife and daughter.

Both men’s Facebook accounts have been active while they have been in custody‚ but Parsons said he recently gave his cellphone to prison staff and deleted his profile.

Parsons‚ Witbooi and Van Niekerk are accused of robbery‚ hijacking‚ kidnapping‚ rape‚ attempted murder and murder. A fourth suspect‚ Nashville Julius‚ is accused of robbery and kidnapping after he allegedly left the scene where Cornelius and Marsh were hijacked.

The trial continues.

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