Mortimer Saunders Picture Siphephile Sibanyoni/ African News Agency (ANA)

The bloodied jeans and panties of murdered 3-year-old Courtney Pieters could have been that of purged fluid, the defence lawyer representing rape and murder-accused Mortimer Saunders said.

On Wednesday, Morne Calitz, advocate for Saunders, cross-examined State witness Hildegarde Thunemann-Olah of the police's forensic science laboratory. Could the stains forensics experts described as a “bloodied crotch area” on the child's jeans and panties, been purged fluids caused during decomposition, he asked.

Thunneman-Olah said the evidence of visible blood she found on the crotch of the jeans indicated to her that a sexual act possibly occurred.

She had conducted presumptive tests, which included rigorous testing for possible semen and possible blood, on Courtney’s panties, jeans and T-shirt, she said.

In a plea statement, Saunders said he forced the 3-year-old to drink ant poison and choked her when she screamed for help.

Before disposing of her body, Saunders said he pulled down her panties before penetrating her with his fingers. Saunders said he had mixed the poison with water. Courtney, at first didn't want the mixture.

Pathologist Johan Dempers said Courtney had suffered blunt force injuries to her face, torso and limbs. The apparent cause of death was asphyxia, with signs of smothering, or poisoning.