Courtney Pieters murder accused arrested in same clothes worn in 'wanted' photos

2018-06-12 15:52
Courtney Pieters murder accused when he made his first appearance in court. (File, Zukile Daniel,News24 )

Courtney Pieters murder accused when he made his first appearance in court. (File, Zukile Daniel,News24 )

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mortimer Saunders was arrested dressed in the same clothing he had worn the day he was recorded allegedly disposing of three-year-old Courtney Pieters' body.

Arresting officer Constable Bradly Spogter of the Elsies River police station testified in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday that he had received a tip-off on Saunders's whereabouts on his official cellphone while on patrol on May 14, 2017.

Courtney had been reported missing on May 4, and her body was found nine days later.

The call was from a private number, Spogter said, and the woman on the other end of the line gave him directions to a house in Jonah Street.

When he entered the servant's quarters on the property, believed to belong to a friend of the accused, Spogter spotted Saunders sitting on a chair, watching TV.

He was wearing a red golf T-shirt, jeans and Caterpillar boots - the same clothes he had worn in the CCTV footage which ostensibly shows him dumping Pieters' body in Epping Industria.

ALSO READ: Initial DNA report matches semen found on Courtney Pieters’ T-shirt to alleged murderer (Warning: Sensitive details)

Stills of the footage had been disseminated as authorities searched for Saunders.

Spogter said, after he entered the house, Saunders got up and turned to start walking away from him.

"To me, it was an indication he wanted to get away from me. I grabbed him from behind by the backside of his jeans," the constable testified.

Saunders was read his rights and taken to the holding cells of the Elsies River police station, Spogter said. The accused had given his full cooperation.

Advocate Mornay Calitz, for Saunders, said his client agreed with Spogter's account, but said he had only stood up when he was arrested.

He denied trying to flee.

'Skollies run away'

Spogter responded that, when Saunders turned his back, it appeared to him that the suspect had wanted to flee.

In his experience, "skollies run away".

Calitz also pointed out that, following his client's arrest, he had pointed out where Courtney had been discarded and had also made a confession. Spogter agreed.

Saunders faces charges of premeditated murder and rape but denies that the toddler's death was planned or that he had sex with her while she was alive.

In his plea explanation, he confessed to murder and to using his fingers to penetrate her after her death.

READ: Mortimer Saunders pleads guilty to murdering Courtney Pieters, 3, performing sexual act with her corpse

Saunders said he had given Courtney ant poison to make her sick, before he choked and beat her and used a towel to close her mouth.

He claimed he had done it because of "ill feelings" between him and Juanita, the toddler's mother.

Saunders - a childhood friend of Courtney's father who lived in the same house - had also ostensibly been irritated because the little girl had wanted to watch TV in his room, and he had wanted to sleep.

Calitz on Wednesday also informed the court that he wished to recall DNA expert Luthando Thiya. The State had no objection and the application was granted.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Read more on:    courtney pieters  |  cape town  |  crime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.