Mortimer Saunders. Picture: Noor Slamdien/African News Agency
Cape Town - Two life sentences. That is what the prosecution wants for Mortimer Saunders, the man accused of the rape and murder of 3-year-old Courtney Pieters.

Prosecutor Esmeralda Cecil said the State wanted Saunders to be convicted of rape and premeditated murder.

“We want life for each of the charges,” she told the court.

Courtney went missing on May 4, 2017, in Elsies River. Her body was found nine days later, buried in a shallow grave in Epping Industria.

According to Saunders' plea and admission, he poisoned the girl because he wanted to make her sick and strangled her to prevent her from screaming.

He denied raping her, but said he penetrated her with three fingers before he got aroused and placed his penis over her body.

It is the State's argument based on the evidence of forensic pathologist Professor Johan Dempers, that Courtney sustained multiple injuries in the vagina with lacerations of varying degrees and depth.

He indicated that the tears could be caused by a blunt object. In addition to Dempers evidence, forensic analyst Lukhanyo Tiya found DNA which tested positive for semen in Courtney's deep vaginal wall.

“He was the last person seen with her and she was only three years old, so how else could the semen be found on her,” Cecil argued.

Defence advocate Morne Calitz said the murder wasn't premeditated.

“There is no record that the accused had a bad relationship with the deceased.

"He had a loving relationship with her. He just wanted to make her sick. He panicked.”

Calitz said there was consistent movement in the house and if he planned to rape and murder Courtney, it would be stupid to do so in a house full of people. “This was done spur of the moment.”

The prosecution wants two life sentences for Mortimer Saunders, the man accused of the rape and murder of 3-year-old Courtney Pieters. Video: Zodidi Dano/African News Agency

Calitz said Saunders didn't lure Courtney to his room.

He said the accused only penetrated Courtney with his fingers to make it appear as a rape.

“Penetration wasn't sexually motivated, he only got aroused afterwards.”

Judge Pearl Mantame postponed judgment for October 17 and 18.


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Cape Argus