Hannah’s ‘killers’ pounced again hours later, court hears
Another woman told the court the gang abducted her just hours after Hannah’s murder
The accused in Hannah Cornelius’s murder and rape, Eben van Niekerk, was sleeping soundly while Miemie October – the fourth victim of his gang’s alleged killing and robbery spree – was sandwiched between him and her gun-wielding kidnapper in the back of a blue VW Citi Golf.
She was snatched off the street at midday on Saturday, May 27 2017, in Kraaifontein, Cape Town, and taken on a journey that made her feel as though her “whole life fell apart”, she told the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday.
But unbeknown to her, the small man dozing off next to her during her ordeal was sleeping off a night of terror.
He and his accomplices stand accused of raping and killing Cornelius and robbing and assaulting her friend Cheslin Marsh the night before October was snatched.
October would only come to know more than four months after her abduction that she was the fourth victim to be allegedly preyed upon by Van Niekerk, Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and another suspect unknown to the state.
“On 8 October, my brother-in-law sent me a link from Die Son which showed their faces after they appeared in court. I read the article and saw it was the same people who took me. I recognised their faces,” she said.
Cornelius was allegedly raped and viciously murdered by the men hours after she and fellow Stellenbosch University student Marsh were robbed, hijacked and kidnapped in Stellenbosch in the early morning hours of May 27.
October said she was reluctant to come forward and even to testify in the case despite pleas by investigating officer Sergeant Marlon Apolis.
“I said I want nothing to do with it. I just wanted to forget.”
She says she was abducted, driven off in the Cornelius’ grandmother’s stolen car and was forced to give the men her bank card and pin. Witbooi and Parsons withdrew R3,900 from her bank account.
Police arrested the men shortly after they dropped October off. A police officer in a patrol vehicle spotted the car that had been reported stolen by Marsh.
Earlier on Wednesday, Avral Fortuin testified. The owner of a house in Kraaifontein, he helped Marsh on the morning of May 27 after he was allegedly assaulted by the gang and left for dead – before they drove on with Cornelius who was then raped and bludgeoned to death.
Fortuin said he heard knocking at his kitchen door. He peeked through the window and saw a bloodied, tattered and shoeless Marsh standing with his back against the wall, cornered by their dog.
“I said, what do you want? Why are you in my backyard? My behaviour was influenced by what happens in our area, the criminality and drug use,” he said.
“He said he jumped over the wall. I said, he can jump right back over the wall. He said: ‘If I jump over they’ll kill me’, and then he asked to call his mother,” said Fortuin.
The couple called the police, who was at that time attending to the scene where Cornelius’s body was found.
The trial continues.