IDENTIFIED: Mortimer Saunders
Cape Town - A lifelong neighbour of Mortimer Saunders, Gail Baron, was the key link in identifying the accused as the person dumping 3-year-old Courtney Pieters’ body on CCTV footage.

On Thursday, investigating officer Sean Taylor told the Western Cape High Court that Baron was the only person, among a number of people from the community, able to identify Saunders from his distinguishable walk as it was difficult to see the face clearly.

Taylor said Baron was 100% sure that the man dumping the child in the bushes was Saunders.

He said Courtney’s mother, Juanita Pieters, who lived in the same house as the accused, told him she didn’t know who the man dressed in the red shirt was.

After Saunders' arrest, Taylor, said Pieters returned to him and said she had in fact lied to him about not being able to identify the accused on the CCTV footage.

“In her words, she said she was ‘shocked and couldn’t believe it was him’. She said she had recognised him,” said Taylor.

Taylor said there were numerous CCTV cameras in the area where Courtney was found. He said in the footage Saunders is seen dumping the body and later returning again to the same spot.

He told the court that as police they had instructed all men in Pluto Street, where Courtney lived, to do swab tests.

He said Saunders didn’t come for the swab test and kept saying he was on his way when he was spotted and photographed by community members at the Pieters' home.

“Because the accused didn’t want to co-operate I called for the sniffer dogs to come in. The dog sniffed outside for a bit and then ran straight to the accused’s room. We brought the dog out a couple of times, but it would go back to his room,” said Taylor.

The investigating officer said the forensic team found blood in the fridge, but they were uncertain whether it was human blood or not.

He said a post-mortem report from the pathologist also indicated that Courtney had been raped.

Saunders maintains that he gave her poison and suffocated the child. He said, through his lawyer, that he didn’t rape her but penetrated her with his fingers after she had died.

Courtney went missing on May 4, 2017. She was found dead a few days later, dumped in Epping Industria. 

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Cape Argus