Cape Town - The gallery erupted in anger in the Western Cape High Court on Monday as the case against Courtney Pieters’ alleged murderer was postponed.
The trial against Mortimer Saunders was supposed to start on Monday, but the matter came to a halt after the defence refuted the rape charge, and requested time for their own forensic expert to examine the evidence.
Saunders, 41, is accused of raping and killing the three-year-old girl at her Salberau Estate, Elsies River, home last year before dumping her tiny body at nearby Epping Industria.
The little girl went missing on 4 May, and nine days later her body was found on a field near Bofors Circle.
Saunders, a friend of Courtney’s father, had been boarding with the family for two years, and was arrested on 13 May, a day after Courtney’s body was found.
A source, who was with Saunders at the Goodwood Prison after his arrest, last year told the Daily Voice that Saunders had “confessed to police to poisoning Courtney before breaking her bones, putting her in a plastic bag and dumping her body on a field”.
And he did all this because he didn’t like the child, the source claimed.
On Monday, his Legal Aid defence attorney, Morné Calitz, told the court they were disputing the rape charge.
“The amended charge sheet has a charge of rape and murder. We want our own forensic pathologist to look at the evidence. The issue we are disputing is the rape charge,” he said.
“We have been assured that all the evidence will have been reviewed and results available within two weeks.”
Judge Pearl Mantame asked the State whether they were satisfied with the postponement, and State prosecutor Esmeralda Cecil said they had discussed the matter and did not object.
Addressing a smiling Saunders, the judge announced that the matter would be postponed for two weeks, to 28 May.
However, this brought the court, filled with family and friends of the deceased, to their feet and angry cries could be heard from the gallery, including from Courtney’s older sister, Andrea Pieters, who stormed out of the courtroom.
“Kom uit, ons wag vir jou! (Come out, we are waiting for you!)” shouted a neighbour of the family.
Outside court, a crying Andrea asked: “How can they do this? All this because he wants time to get his story right? We have waited for a whole year and my sister’s life means nothing to these people. I am angry and I want justice for my sister. He does not get away with this.”
On Saturday family and friends held a memorial service at the place where Courtney’s body was found, and on Sunday, a tombstone for her tiny grave at the Belhar Cemetery was unveiled.