Standing on Courtney Pieters’ doorstep on Thursday‚ President Jacob Zuma slammed police for their handling of the murdered Cape Town three-year-old’s disappearance.
“When the police were asked to come and help‚ they actually almost treated the mother as the perpetrator instead of helping to look for the child‚” said Zuma.
Had they came to the Elsies River house in the first place‚ they would have searched it. “They could have found the body; they could have found the blood … [but] they did not react as if this was a serious matter‚” Zuma said after visiting Courtney’s family.
He said he would ask Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to address the problem. Mbalula was due to attend a memorial service for Courtney at Elsies River Civic Centre tonight.
Zuma unveiled a plaque dedicated to Courtney on the wall of her family’s pink two-storey home in Pluto Street.
The little girl was found in Epping on Saturday‚ nine days after she disappeared from outside the house on May 4. The following day‚ police arrested 40-year-old Mortimer Saunders‚ who was a tenant in their house for two years.
He appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday charged with rape and murder.
Addressing the media after speaking with the family‚ Zuma said he was shocked by the incident‚ which he said he could not even describe as being cold-hearted.
“That a man who stays here can rape the child‚ kill the child in the bedroom … and break every bone to make the child fit in a plastic bag … It shows something has gone wrong with society‚” he said.
The rate at which children and women were being raped and murdered indicated that there is something wrong with society‚ he said‚ asking communities to form groups to protect women and children from violence.
“But police must double their efforts to help society. This is one of the saddest incidents I have come across. For a man who stays in the same house to commit a murder‚ stay awake and face the family [and] pretend he knows nothing…” he said.