The horror 11-hour ordeal Hannah Cornelius suffered at the hands of her callous killers has been detailed in a newly-released documentary.
The 21-year-old student was with friend Cheslin Marsh when the car they were traveling in was halted by a ‘pack of wolves’ gang in a secluded area of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The pair were held at knifepoint before being taken hostage and driven around by the criminals for hours in May 2017.
Cheslin was brutally beaten and left for dead on the side of the road, the Mirror reports.
The heinous thugs then went on to repeatedly gang-rape Hannah, before stabbing her in the neck and dropping a 2ft rock on her head.
The abhorrent killers – Nashville Julius, 29, Geraldo Parsons, 27, Eben Van Niekerk, 28, and Vernon Witbooi – showed no remorse as they were sentenced to jail for life in 2018.
Now a new documentary five years on has shed light on the events that took place before Hannah’s tragic death and how her family struggled to come to terms with her ordeal.
Hannah’s mother, Anna, drowned just a year after the student’s death as she took her daily swim – her battered body spotted in shallow waters in Cape Town, The Sun reports.
Hannah’s father Willem said the impact of his daughter’s death on the family was “beyond devastating” and said his wife “walked into the ocean and didn’t return”.
He added: “I believe our family died with Hannah.”
Anna’s death was ruled as a fatal accident, and while Willem claimed he did not believe his wife intended to kill herself he added that she lacked the physical or mental strength to deal with the horrifying slaughter of her daughter.
The night of terror began for Hannah and Cheslin, on May 27, 2017, when the pair were heading home from a night out.
Hannah had offered Cheslin a lift home but while the pair were parked up, CCTV captured the moment the four strong gang encircled the vehicle.
Armed with a screwdriver and flick knife they forced Cheslin into the backseat and then the boot while Hannah was cramped between the two front seats.
Talking during the new documentary, Cheslin said: “I kept telling her, basically, to stay calm the whole time…everything is going to be okay.”
The gang were again caught on CCTV as they drove to a nearby petrol station to withdraw money from a cash machine with Cheslin’s card, but were given the wrong pin.
During a police interview, Witbooi describes how terrified Hannah didn’t talk at all and “just looked out in front of her.”
The callous killers even offered her a glimmer of hope, claiming they wanted to take them both home – but the student would never see her loved ones again.
After driving them to a remote area, Cheslin was beaten with bricks and left for dead, but miraculously survived the attack.
He said: “They were taking me into the bushes… and then they told me I should lay my head on a piece of brick and that’s when I realized these people are gonna take my life away.
“And as I was laying on the brick, I closed my eyes and prayed and asked the Lord for forgiveness for whatever I did in this life.
“Because I definitely knew I’m gonna go to another one and I didn’t want to go.”
Traumatized Cheslin awoke from the brutal attack partially deaf and not knowing whether Hannah was dead or alive.
In fact, Hannah had been driven to a farm road, where the gang claimed they had planned to leave her alive until she began to struggle and was stabbed in the neck.
During the trial, Parsons said they believed they had killed Cheslin and admitted being the first one to rape Hannah.
According to Times Live, he told the trial: “She didn’t want to climb out of the boot. She was holding on to the car. She started panicking. Eben came up and stabbed her.”
But family friends of Hannah’s claimed she would have tried to comply with her killers’ requests and even empathize with them in a bid to survive.
After killing Hannah, the men continued their terrifying crime spree, chasing a woman walking to work in nearby Kraaifontein before stealing her bag and phone.
The group were then arrested following a high-speed police chase after Hannah’s car was spotted by undercover cops.
Her cruel killers were sentenced to a combined 358 years behind bars with three out of four facing life sentences following the trial at Cape Town high court.
Her heartbroken father Willem admitted during the trial that it had taken him a while to attend the court hearing because he “didn’t want to hear what had happened” to his beloved daughter – who was described as a ‘daddy’s girl’.
Willem and Anna went on to create the Hannah Cornelius Foundation to help children in their local area get into education and escape violence within their community.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.