The funeral programme of murdered Maties student Hannah Cornelius, on a wreath, outside the Fish Hoek Dutch Reform church where her memorial service was held. Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The father and aunt of murdered Stellenbosch University student Hannah Cornelius this week asked the Western Cape High Court to impose the maximum sentence on the three men found guilty of her kidnapping, robbery, rape and murder.

The Cornelius family and the mother of her friend, Marilyn Marsh, were testifying in aggravation of sentence.

Vernon Petersen, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were this week found guilty of the rape and murder of Cornelius as well as the kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder of her friend, Cheslin Marsh.

A fourth accused, Nashville Julius, was only found guilty of kidnapping and robbery of Cornelius and Marsh.

The friends were abducted from Marsh’s Nouveau student apartment building in Stellenbosch by the four men.

Cornelius was raped and killed and her body was discovered on the morning of May 27, 2017.

Her aunt, Eleanor Cornelius, referred to the four as “monsters” and asked the court to ensure that they are never set free again.

“No real man takes from a woman that which she did not willingly give. I had to tell my 90-year-old mother that her granddaughter, to whom she had given her car, was raped and murdered,” said Cornelius in court, struggling to maintain her composure.

She also did not mince her words when she berated the four men for “smiling” in court knowing what they had done.

“Fear and paranoia entered our front door and is here to stay,” added Cornelius.

She reminded the court that, for the Cornelius family, every wedding and every birthday party would be a reminder that Cornelius was no longer with them.

She also asked that the four men never be eligible for parole.

“This would be a smack in the face of humanity,” she concluded.

Cornelius’s father, Willem Cornelius, apologised to the court that this was his first appearance, saying he had not been able to bring himself to attend proceedings.

“I am just trying to give my youngest child the most normal life possible after this tragedy,” said Cornelius.

He also thanked the court, the investigating officers and the family of Marsh for speaking out for his daughter, “now that she can no longer speak for herself”.

The heartbroken father spoke of his daughter’s six distinctions which she obtained in her matric year and the promising future that she would have had.

“Hannah was a very different child. She did not have any teething problems and we never went through that terrible twos phase with her. There was no drama and she was a gifted pianist,” said Cornelius, remaining very composed.

In March this year his wife, Anna Cornelius, was found dead in shallow water by beach-goers in Scarborough.

Cornelius said he did not believe that his wife had committed suicide as was suspected and reported.

He told the court that he is still receiving psychological “care” to help him deal with his daughter’s murder and his wife’s death and that he did not know how long he would still receive “care”.

According to Cornelius, two of his daughter’s friends have been unable to resume their studies as a result of the tragedy.

The Cornelius family and their supporters all wore white roses on their lapels.

Sentencing has been set down for 2pm on Monday.

Weekend Argus