A friend who was with Hannah Cornelius the night she was raped and murdered is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday about the horror that unfolded.
The Western Cape High Court had to adjourn proceedings on Wednesday because Cheslin Marsh, 22, wept inconsolably and was hardly able to speak.
He is understood to have suffered severe head and body injuries after he was left for dead that night.
Just metres away from him in court were Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius, who face a string of charges that include murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape.
Marsh, the State’s first witness, recalled how the night unfolded after Cornelius insisted on dropping him off at home in the student town.
Beaten into submission
The men allegedly accosted the pair in her VW Citi Golf at the corner of Jan Celliers and Bird streets in the early hours of May 27, 2017.
Cornelius was allegedly beaten into submission and a screwdriver was used to threaten her, while Marsh was forced into the backseat of his friend’s car at knife-point.
Marsh testified that a man on his right shook him down and took his cellphone and wallet, containing between R40 and R60, before handing it back to him.
He was told to get into the boot.
A while later, the car stopped again and he heard the occupants speaking about going to smoke. Someone said they couldn’t leave Cornelius alone in the car.
“They called her ‘die kind’ [the child],” Marsh told the court.
“They came back later. Nobody said anything until Hannah asked what they were going to do now when they drove. They said they’re going to smoke and give back the car.
“I could hear she was very scared. Her voice was soft.”
He recounted that he felt them driving on a gravel road before the car stopped.
It is understood that this is the scene where Marsh was told to get out of the boot and taken to a bushy area where the assault took place.
Her body was found that morning on the side of a road, near a wine farm outside Stellenbosch.
A video recording of the statement made by Witbooi played in court on Wednesday, detailed his version of what had happened on the night Cornelius was killed.
According to the written document admitted as evidence, went to the Stellenbosch CBD after dark on Friday, May 26, 2017, after doing drugs to “see what we could get”.
They met Nashville Julius on their way and he walked with them, Witbooi claimed.
His confession implicated a fifth suspect in the crime, who has not yet been apprehended.