Courtney Pieters’s mother gives emotional testimony in court

Juanita Pieters cried as she told the court she feels hurt and partly blames herself for her daughter’s death because she left her children unattended on the day the girl disappeared.

Mortimer Saunders seen in court on  29 May 2018. He has pleaded guilty to a charge of Courtney Pieters's murder but insists it was not premeditated. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The mother of murdered three-year-old Courtney Pieters has continued giving evidence in the trial of Mortimer Saunders.

Saunders on Thursday pleaded guilty to a charge of murder but insists it was not premeditated. He also admitted to necrophilia. But he pleaded not guilty to raping the little girl last year.

But the State refused to accept the accused’s admissions, which means two not guilty pleas have been entered into the court record.

VIDEO: Mortimer Saunders pleads guilty to murder

Juanita Pieters cried as she told the court she feels hurt and partly blames herself for her daughter’s death because she left her children unattended on the day the girl disappeared.

The child was left in bed with her six-year-old brother on the morning of 4 May 2017 when she left for work.

The mother says she’s attended one counselling session to deal with her loss.

She says after Courtney was laid to rest, she became very ill and was diagnosed with TB meningitis which kept her in hospital for four months.

SAUNDERS APOLOGISES

The accused has apologised to the child's mother. The interaction happened in court on Tuesday. The surprise apology came after Juanita Pieters had been cross-examined by the defence.

Saunders leaned over to instruct his lawyer and advocate Morne Calitz turned to the court, saying his client wants to apologise to Pieters for what he has done. The mother took a while to respond but eventually told the court she's forgiven Saunders but can never forget.

Pieters says while she believes her daughter would never go to the accused's bedroom on her own, she can admit that Saunders showed the child love and the little girl was fond of him.