The heartbroken dad of a student who was gang raped and murdered in South Africa has recounted how her mother died months later after becoming "a shadow of herself".
Addressing the Western Cape High Court, Willem Cornelius said his family died with daughter Hannah, who was killed in May last year.
The 21-year-old student was raped and killed after she and friend Cheslin Marsh, 22, were carjacked in Stellenbosch, west of Cape Town.
In March this year, her mum Anna was found dead in shallow water by beachgoers in Scarborough, Cape Town.
Mr Cornelius said: "I do not believe that she committed suicide… but what I do believe is that she did not have the physical or mental strength left to counter any difficulties that she may have experienced."
Describing the impact their daughter’s death had on Anna, who was 56 when she died, Mr Cornelius said: "My wife, in addition to being my best friend, was the strongest and most competent person I have ever met.
"She became a shadow of herself… frantic, almost manic in everything she did.
"Outwardly still in control but inside she had very little to give – there was very little substance."
A murder trial heard Hannah had pleaded with her kidnappers, saying they could sexually assault her but begging them to spare her life.
Eben Van Niekerk, 28, Geraldo Parsons , 27, and Vernon Witbooi, 33, were yesterday found guilty of kidnap, robbery, rape and murder, while co-defendant Nashville Julius was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping.
After being robbed, Chaslin, 22, was beaten with bricks and left for dead by Van Niekerk, Parsons and Witbooi.
Another man, referred to as "Kaffertjie", gave the trio drugs before brutally raping Hannah and throwing rocks at her head.
"Kaffertjie" was never arrested.
Giving his victim impact statement today ahead of the sentencing, heartbroken Mr Cornelius said: "Before I start, I want to apologise that I am here for the first time.
"I didn’t want to hear what had happened. The effect Hannah’s death has had on our family is beyond devastating."
He said his autistic son was unaware for some time of Hannah’s death.
Struggling to hold back the tears, the former magistrate added: "I believe our family died with her.
"All parents believe their children are exceptional. We were no different.
"She said she wanted to do something that would help people."
Parsons told the court that the group believed they had killed Chaslin, and admitted being the first to rape Hannah.
He claimed the men planned to leave her on a farm, but she had struggled.
Cheslin did not regain consciousness until the day after the attack – which happened on May 27 last year.
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."
He claimed to have pleaded with Wotbooi not to kill her, but she was hit twice over the head, with experts saying she died instantly.
After killing Hannah, the men used her car to go on a robbery spree, attacking at least three women before being caught in a police chase.
The court heard Hannah went through an “extremely painful” ordeal before she was killed.
Hannah suffered severe vaginal and cervical injuries in the prolonged attack.
Following the verdict Toni Raphael, of the Hannah Cornelius Foundation – which was set up in her memory – said, News24 reports: "We’re not happy there are so many lives that have been destroyed on their side, on our side…
"There’s no joy in that. But we’re very grateful that the law has taken its course and has held people accountable – that’s how it must be."
In a Facebook post titled ‘When Anna joined Hannah’, the Hannah Cornelius Foundation confirmed that Anna died on Sunday, March 25.
It said: "Anna’s friends and family knew her as an amazing human being, full of light, abundant love and energy. Following her daughter, Hannah’s, death Anna founded the Hannah Cornelius Foundation in June 2017."
At an earlier hearing, it emerged that Hannah’s parents were sent a letter from one of her alleged gang rapists begging for their forgiveness.
Eben van Niekerk penned the letter but claims he was told to write in by Sergeant Steven Adams.
The letter was reportedly written after his arrest and before the four men first appeared in court.
It was translated from Afrikaans and had a number of errors. The top of the letter read: "This letter comes from Eben VNK" and it was also signed and initialled.
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