#HannahCornelius: Stellenbosch campus shaken up by student's murder

By Rusana Philander And Marvin Charles Time of article published May 30, 2017

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Cape Town – Students at the University of Stellenbosch are filled with fear after the hijacking and murder of student Hannah Cornelius.

This as two suspects have appeared in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court for her hijacking and death, and the hijacking and attempted murder of her male friend.

Police arrested three suspects but only two appeared, while the third will be charged and brought before court on Tuesday morning. The police are still looking for a fourth suspect.

The two men charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances are Vernon Junald Witbooi and Geraldo Parsens. Magistrate Gregory Jacobs postponed the case to July 28 for further investigation.

Cornelius was killed after she and her friend were hijacked in Bird Street, Stellenbosch, on Friday. Her body was found on Saturday morning in Knorhoek Road near a farm in Stellenbosch.

“We, as students of Stellenbosch University and residents of this community, are horrified, disgusted and appalled,” student activist Luke Waltham said.

“A massive concern that we, as young leaders, have is that there are many double standards with regards to security and police on Stellenbosch campus and around town,” Waltham said.

He also found it extremely concerning that when the university was participating in the #FeesMustFall protests, security was visible on the university’s property, unlike now.

“Now we see very few security personnel and police officers walking around ensuring students feel safe in their learning environment,” he said.

Kamva Somdyala, a communications officer for the students’ representative council, said they had been in talks with the university regarding upgrading its security.

“However, it’s very difficult because we are uncertain of the jurisdiction of the security,” Somdyala said.

Stellenbosch mayor Gesie van Deventer said Stellenbosch municipality, as a local municipality, was not allowed to have city police and instead “only a law-enforcement section with a mandate to police municipal by-laws”.

One of the students at the Irene hostel – where Cornelius stayed – who wanted to remain anonymous, said that they were scared to walk outside at night.

“There have been a couple of muggings in the area,” she said.

Deputy police minister, Bongani Mkongi, said he was also angered by the continued attacks on innocent women, girls and children.

Martin Viljoen, a spokesperson for the university, said: “The university is continuously reviewing and refining its safety and security arrangements.”

As the suspects appeared in the dock on Monday, friends and fellow students filled the courtroom.

They stood outside the court house with messages that read “Save our students” and “Enough is enough”.

After the court proceedings, they held a silent march in Bird Street with their placards.

Aron Heesom-Green, a friend of Cornelius, cried uncontrollably.

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