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Willem Cornelius: My family died with Hannah's death

Hannah Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh were hijacked in Stellenbosch in May last year. She was raped and stabbed to death after the young man was assaulted and left for dead.

FILE: Hannah Cornelius. Picture: Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN - Three men convicted of the rape and murder of Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius and the attempted murder of her friend Cheslin Marsh will be sentenced in the Western Cape High Court next week.

The 21-year-old woman and Marsh were hijacked in Stellenbosch during the early hours of the morning in May last year.

She was raped and stabbed to death after the young man was assaulted and left for dead.

Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben Van Niekerk have been found guilty of rape, murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery.

A fourth accused, Nashville Julius, will be sentenced for kidnapping and robbery.

Willem Cornelius has told the court of that the effect his daughter's tragic death has had on his family is beyond devastating.

The emotional man testified in aggravation of sentence on Thursday, saying he believes his family died with his daughter's murder and was buried when his wife died months later.

Cornelius says his younger son, who is autistic, doesn't understand the concept of death. When he is put to bed every night, the boy stops in front of a framed photo of his sister and asks when Hannah will be returning home from holiday.

He says his wife, who was one of the strongest people he'd ever met, became an inconsolable shadow of herself after their daughter's murder.

Cornelius says he hopes the court will consider a sentence that will at the very least prevent other parents from going through what he has, at least as far as his daughter's killers are concerned.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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