Case of man accused of raping, killing 3-year-old Courtney to go to High Court

2017-08-24 12:35
Mortimer Saunders appears for the rape and murder of Courtney Pieters. (Jenni Evans/News24)

Mortimer Saunders appears for the rape and murder of Courtney Pieters. (Jenni Evans/News24)

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Cape Town – "Every time I look at him I just want to kill him."

These were the words of Juanita Pieters, after the man who allegedly raped and killed her 3-year-old daughter Courtney appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Mortimer Saunders, the son of a pastor, appeared earlier in the court, which was packed with the people who had lived near the Pieters' home where he had rented a room.

Outside court, the grieving Elsies River mother said she could tell that he feels no remorse by "the way that he stands in the court".

Magistrate Paul Visagie warned the public gallery to be quiet, and at one point asked the prosecutor when Saunders would be appearing so that proceedings could go back to normal.

Outside, a group of men and women kept up a vigil with posters made in memory of Courtney, and of other children who suffered similar brutal deaths.

'Justice must prevail'

They stood outside with homemade posters, some encased in plastic in case it rained.

"To all our fallen angels, justice must prevail," read one poster. At the time of Courtney's death in May, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and President Jacob Zuma said 19 children had been killed in the Western Cape since the start of 2017.

One woman wore a T-shirt with pictures of other children who had been raped and killed, like Tokai teen Franziska Blöchliger who was murdered in Tokai forest in 2016.


Protesters outside the Goodwood Magistrate's Court for the appearance of the man accused of the rape and murder of Courtney Pieters. (Jenni Evans/News24)

Many had joined the grim but hopeful daily search for Courtney after she disappeared from near her home on May 4.

A police helicopter, sniffer dogs, and a steady stream of police officers also kept up the search in the hopes of finding her alive.

'Just want to get it finished'

However on Saturday, May 13, the day before Mother's Day, her body was found in a shallow grave in nearby Epping Industria.

She had also been raped.

Saunders was arrested the following day.


Four months after Courtney Pieters was killed, her community still fills the court for the appearance of the man accused of her murder. (Jenni Evans/News24)

During a visit to the area, Zuma related that Courtney's father Aaron Fourie had told him that every bone in her body had been broken.

A plaque in memory of Courtney was unveiled by Zuma, who later also promised to find them a better house.

Pieters said that it is still in the offing, and the house is currently being prepared for them.

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It has been just over four months since Saunders' arrest, but for Pieters and her husband the wait for justice is very difficult.

"I just want to get it finished," said Pieters.

The case was postponed to October 6, for Saunders to be formally indicted on one charge of rape, and one charge of murder.

During his court appearance, prosecutor Dandridge Neethling said the post-mortem and DNA reports were ready, and at Mortimer's next appearance his case would also be transferred to a High Court.


Read more on:    courtney pieters  |  cape town  |  crime

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