DISTRAUGHT: Juanita Pieters, Courtney's mom, being comforted by a neighbour, Rashieda Simon, during a prayer vigil at their Pluto Street home. Picture: Phando Jikelo

Cape Town – When the parents of Courtney Pieters heard her alleged killer being charged with two counts of rape in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court on Wednesday morning, the bereaved mother looked shocked.

It appeared to be the first time they had heard that Mortimer Saunders, 40, charged with her murder, had also allegedly sexually assaulted the little three-year-old.

Chaos broke out outside court after Saunders' appearance on Wednesday morning, with the community of Elsies River demanding the police hand over the suspect to them.

Scores of demonstrators, including members of the Mitchell's Plain Crisis Forum and the Manenberg Safety Forum protested outside the court house.

Many held banners reading "Justice for Courtney".

There was a heavy police presence behind the court as Saunders was transported away from the Goodwood Magistrate's Court.

There had been a request by the defence to have him remanded to a hospital cell out of fear for his life.

He was remanded in custody.

As Saunders was driven away by the police, protesters tried to break through the line of police members.

The police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Courtney disappeared from her home in Pluto Street, Salberau, Elsies River on Thursday May 4.

Her body was discovered in Epping more than a week later on May 13.

Her alleged killer was arrested the following day.

Saunders is due back in court on May 24.

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