Mortimer Saunders Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

The case against Mortimer Saunders will continue in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday after a two-day delay this week. 

The trial has been postponed due to State prosecutor Esmeralda Cecil being ill. Cecil could not attend court proceedings yesterday and today. The trial is set to resume on Wednesday, the court heard. 

Morne Calitz, defence advocate for the rape and murder accused, is set to start his cross-examination of State expert witness and pathologist Johan Dempers tomorrow. 

Last week, Dempers said following further testing of tissue from slain 3-year-old Courtney Pieters’ neck and genitalia, he still could not confirm if she was raped ante or post-mortem. Cecil last week made an application for “further scientific evidence related to the decomposed neck and genitalia” to be submitted to the court.  

Judge Pearl Mantame granted the application despite Calitz’s objection.

Calitz said the further testing which was conducted by the defence’s own experts, related to decomposition post- and ante-mortem, “was not evidence due to oversight”, but done subsequent to Dempers’s evidence-in-chief.

Dempers maintained that he was not changing his expert opinion detailed in his evidence in chief but the further scientific evidence “supported” this opinion. 

In a plea statement, Saunders confessed to the murder of the child by giving her rat poison in liquid form. Saunders denied raping the toddler, but said he performed a sexual act by penetrating her corpse with three fingers.

Sounders admitted to murdering Courtney on May 4 last year after her mother, Juanita Pieters, left her at home with no supervision, and because he said he had “compounded ill feelings” towards Juanita.

Saunders pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of rape, saying he performed a sexual act on the minor’s corpse and guilty to a murder charge. 

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