Courtney Pieters suffered long, torturous death, court hears

Judge Babalwa Mantame on Thursday convicted Mortimer Saunders of rape and the premeditated murder of three-year-old Courtney Pieters.

FILE: Residents say outside court say they are still struggling to deal with three-year-old Courtney Pieters's tragic death. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court has heard how convicted child killer Mortimer Saunders abused his position of trust and viciously killed three-year-old Courtney Pieters.

Judge Babalwa Mantame on Thursday convicted the Elsies River man of rape and the premeditated murder.

Saunders was arrested shortly after the little girl’s body was found in Epping Industria last May.

WATCH: Mortimer Saunders found guilty on all charges

Mantame says the State has proven beyond reasonable doubt that three-year-old Pieters’ murder was premeditated.

She says Saunders’ deeds required planning and with the high content of poison found in the child’s blood, he clearly intended to kill her.

Mantame says the little girl suffered a long and torturous death after Saunders fed her ant poison before choking her.

The judge granted the little girl’s mother Juanita Pieters immunity from prosecution. This comes after the court previously warned the mother that she could face child neglect charges because she left her daughter in the care of her seven-year-old brother on the day she disappeared.

Mantame says she took into account the family’s economic status, as Juanita left her children alone to go out and earn a living.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)