Hannah murder: Thumbprint on condom comes to light
Court also heard testimony about the murder weapon, a massive rock, which grown men struggled to lift
The left thumbprint of rape and murder accused Geraldo Parsons was found on a condom packet in the area where Hannah Cornelius was raped, the court heard on Tuesday.
The Western Cape High Court was hearing evidence from state witnesses who testified on the technical aspects of the investigation, including police fingerprint expert Captain Jan Bester.
Parsons and his co-accused, Vernon Witbooi and Eben van Niekerk, are accused of the robbery, rape and murder of Cornelius and robbery and attempted murder of Cheslin Marsh after the two friends were abducted in Stellenbosch last year. A fourth accused, Nashville Julius, is facing robbery and kidnapping charges, but not murder and rape charges. They have all pleaded not guilty. Bester analysed the fingerprints on an empty Max condom wrapper which was found by a sniffer dog, a labrador called Ethan, at a paintball club near Kraaifontein where Hannah was raped in the early morning hours of May 27.
The dog has been trained to sniff out bodily fluids including semen, and K9 unit member Sergeant Jerome Timmy found the empty packet and used condoms on Sunday, May 28.
The court also heard testimony about the murder weapon, a massive rock, which was placed on a table in the centre of the courtroom on Tuesday, and how two men fixing a borehole pump unintentionally set the scene for Cornelius to be bludgeoned to death.
Conrad Booysen and Flippie Matthee testified that they went to fix a borehole pump on the Groenhoek farm near Stellenbosch on the afternoon of Friday, May 26 last year. They removed the broken pump, leaving a hole in the ground. Booysen and Matthee then placed the rock over the hole.
The rock was so large that the 54-year-old Booysen could not pick it up. His younger colleague Matthee, 32, said that he had to pick up the “hefty” rock and place it over the hole.
“Sometimes the farm kids will throw rubbish down the hole,” Matthee explained.
As they left for home before 5pm, Cornelius and Marsh were hours away from meeting each other at a social event for the first time, and also the last time.
At about 6.30am the following morning, on Saturday, May 27, Cornelius was found lying with her face in the ground. Her heart was pumping blood through two neck wounds, possibly from the swift penetrating thrust of a screwdriver, but this was not what killed her.
According to Dr Deirdre Abrahams, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Cornelius’s body, the fatal blows came when the rock was twice dropped on the back of her head.
“The blunt force injuries to her head were very rapidly fatal,” said Abrahams. She said the blows “tore her brain”.
When Matthee and Booysen arrived at 8.20 the next morning with the new set of pipes which would help the farm collect water during the greatest drought the Western Cape has ever experienced, they came across a very different scene from the day before.
“I saw something that looked like a white bag. Then I saw it was a person,” said Booysen.
They left to find the foreman who thought that it was a doll lying on the ground, but they soon realised it was a young woman. Her jeans were pulled halfway down. There were bruises on her knees, legs and arms.
A dozen kilometres away, Marsh had just woken up after having miraculously survived the ordeal that left him deaf in the one ear. With severe head wounds from being beaten with half-bricks, the bloodied Stellenbosch University student managed to get help from residents of the Kraaifontein area close to the bushes where he was left to die.
Despite the trauma he suffered, he managed to describe to the police what had transpired in Cornelius’s grandmother’s blue Citi Golf.
That afternoon, while on patrol in the Stellenbosch winelands area, police spotted that car and arrested Witbooi after a high speed chase. His co-accused were nabbed shortly thereafter.
The trial continues on Wednesday.