Murder and rape accused Mortimer Saunders. Picture: Noor Slamdien/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - Western Cape High Court Judge Pearl Mantame says murder and rape accused Mortimer Saunders had intended to kill 3-year-old Courtney Pieters.

This was during the closing arguments by the State and defence on Monday. Courtney was choked to death after being poisoned with ant poison given to her by Saunders on the day she went missing.

In his plea explanation, Saunders said it was not his intention to kill the toddler, adding that he just wanted to make her ill.

Judge Mantame questioned why Saunders did not seek medical help for Courtney when she reacted to the poison by vomiting, coughing and showing signs of cyanosis when she turned blue at her lips.

State advocate Esmeralda Cecil said after Saunders gave Courtney the poison, “it was as if he was waiting for her to die” in his room, while other tenants at the Pluto Street home were searching for her on the day she went missing.

Cecil also challenged Saunders’s claim that he had penetrated her vagina with three fingers, after which he became aroused.

“It is highly improbable for the accused’s semen to have been found in the deep vagina vault if he had not penetrated her with his penis. 

"He said he had only taken out his penis after digitally penetrating her, which aroused him. The only reasonable explanation for semen being found in that area would be that the accused penetrated the victim with his penis,” Cecil said.

She was confident the State had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and said a just sentence would be two life sentences, she said.

Defence advocate Morne Calitz disputed that the State had proved their case beyond reasonable doubt, and failed to prove that the murder was premeditated.

Calitz said his client pleaded guilty to a charge of “plain murder” and denied raping the toddler, but admitted performing a sexual act on the victim’s corpse.

“For a murder to be premeditated, there must be evidence of planned criminality and there should be evidence of this. (The amount of time taken to commit murder) must be taken into account and must be dealt with on a case to case basis,” he said.

According to Calitz, his client acted on the “spur of the moment” and killed Courtney as he did not want anybody finding her in his room and holding him responsible for making her ill.

Saunders said he poisoned Courtney as he harboured ill feelings for her mother, Juanita Pieters. Courtney’s decomposing body was found nine days after she was reported missing on May 4. She was found on top of a rubbish heap in Bofors Circle, Epping Industria.

Judgment will be delivered on October 17 and 18.

Cape Times