Accused's role in Hannah Cornelius murder case was minimal, defence argues

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

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

Published Oct 31, 2018


Cape Town - Nashville Julius, one of three accused in the Hannah Cornelius murder case, was present at the commencement of the crime for only 107 seconds before dissociating himself, the Western Cape High Court heard.

His defence advocate, Scanlyn Collins, said the “crime spree” which started with the hijacking of Cornelius and her friend, Cheslin Marsh, early on May 27 last year ended at noon the following day.

Cornelius and Marsh were in a parked blue Citi Golf in Stellenbosch when Julius, Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk approached them.

It is the State’s case that Cornelius and Marsh were held at knifepoint before they were robbed and kidnapped.

Marsh was left unconscious in bushes in Kraaifontein. Cornelius’s body was found close to a farm outside the town. The car was used to commit other robberies on the day.

Collins told the court Julius was at the scene for only 107 seconds, based on video footage before he “chose his own way”.

“He didn’t have a weapon and should be charged with robbery and not robbery with aggravating circumstances. Accused four (Julius) didn’t help with the kidnapping,” said Collins.

Advocate Dudley Johnson, for Van Niekerk, said his client’s DNA was never found. He also argued that the testimony of Parsons’s girlfriend, Elicia Johnson, was biased and would corroborate Parsons’s testimony.

She had testified that Van Niekerk had burnt clothes and shoes in a fire because they had blood on them.

Johnson said Parsons’s testimony couldn’t be relied upon as he tried to minimise his role in the crime.

Parsons lawyer, advocate Omar Arends, argued that based on video footage, Parsons was just the driver. He said Witbooi was the most prominent figure.

Arends said although Parsons accepted responsibility for Cornelius’s death, there had been no plan to stab and stone her.

Parsons reconciled himself to the actions of Witbooi and Van Niekerk after Cornelius’s murder, he said.

In his testimony, Parsons implicated both Witbooi and Van Niekerk in the murder.

State prosecutor, advocate Lenro Badenhorst said Julius had agreed to rob and kidnap the people in the car.

“Accused four was very much an instrument. He must have known the plan to rob and take the people inside the car,” he said.

Badenhorst also argued that the court should accept Parsons’s testimony as it was corroborated by Marsh’s version.

Cape Argus

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