A year on, Courtney Pieters' mother still battling to cope with her murder

Courtney Pieters’ rape and murder dominated the Western Cape media and became a rallying point for the community in a story that shocked the nation.

FILE: The mother of three-year-old Courtney Pieters (left) sits in Goodwood Magistrates Court where her daughter's alleged murderer appeared. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

CAPE TOWN - On this day last year, three-year old Courtney Pieters’ mother began a frantic search for her daughter.

She had disappeared from her Pluto Road home in Elsies River setting in motion events that would change her family’s lives forever.

Courtney Pieters’ rape and murder dominated the Western Cape media and became a rallying point for the community in a story that shocked the nation.

Pieters' mother, Juanita, is still broken by her baby girl’s brutal murder, as with tears streaming down her face, she reflects on the day that her three-year-old daughter went missing.

"If I could go back and change everything, I would not have gone to work that day. If only I knew what would happen, I would not have gone to work. To this day I still ask myself why I did not stay at home.”

Courtney was abducted a year ago today.

Almost 10 days later, after an extensive community search, volunteers found the little girl’s battered body in an industrial area not far from the street her family called home.

Her murder led to renewed calls by community members for an increase in police resources in the community. A flurry of visits from dignitaries then happened, ranging from then Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to then President Jacob Zuma.

The Pieters’ neighbour, Mortimer Saunders, was arrested the day after Courtney’s body was found. A year on and his trial has yet to begin. It has been set down in the Western Cape High Court for 14 May.