Judgment begins in case of murdered three-year-old Courtney Pieters

Mortimer Saunders, the man who confessed to killing three-year-old Courtney Pieters and performing a sexual act on her corpse, in the Cape Town High Court on May 30 2018.
Mortimer Saunders, the man who confessed to killing three-year-old Courtney Pieters and performing a sexual act on her corpse, in the Cape Town High Court on May 30 2018.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Self-confessed child killer Mortimer Saunders sat in the dock staring ahead as judgment began on Tuesday in the case of murdered three-year-old Courtney Pieters in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town.

Saunders‚ wearing a brown jacket and blue jeans‚ listened as Judge Pearl Mantame started reading through evidence heard during the trial.

Saunders confessed to killing Courtney in Elsies River with ant poison and committing necrophilia. TimesLIVE reported earlier that in his plea explanation in May he said: “I unlawfully and intentionally committed a sexual act with a corpse.”

Courtney was murdered in her home in Elsies River in May 2017. Saunders was a tenant in her home at the time‚ and he was also friends with Courtney’s father‚ Aaron Fourie. The little girl was in the care of her six-year-old brother.

According to Saunders‚ she irritated him by waking him up because she wanted to watch television in his room.

“Irritated for having been woken a second time‚ and compounded by ill feelings between myself and her mother‚ I decided to give her ant poison‚” Saunders said.

He had bought the poison‚ which was in powder form‚ months earlier to repel ants in his room. He mixed it with water.

“Initially she did not want to drink it‚ but on telling her to do so she did‚” he said.

The incident received wide media coverage at the time. Then-president Jacob Zuma visited the family and said he was appalled at Saunders’ act.

“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‚” said Zuma.

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