Court hears convicted child killer Saunders hasn't taken responsibility

Probation officer Jeremy Kessie says during his assessment of the convicted child rapist and murderer, Saunders maintained he did not intend to kill Courtney Pieters.

Mortimer Saunders was found guilty of the rape and premeditated murder of Courtney Pieters. Pieters' body was found in May, nine days after she’d been reported missing from her Elsies River home. Picture: Monique Mortlock/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court has on Tuesday heard that child killer Mortimer Saunders has still not taken full responsibility for his actions.

Last month, Saunders was found guilty of the rape and murder of three-year-old Courtney Pieters in Elsies River in May 2017.

Probation officer Jeremy Kessie has told the court that during his assessment of the convicted child rapist and murderer, Saunders maintained he did not intend to kill Courtney Pieters.

Kessie has found Saunders, in administering ant poison to the child, should've had the foresight to know his actions would lead to her death.

The witness says he doesn't believe Saunders has accepted full responsibility for his actions.

Kessie says Saunders was paranoid, believing that the child's mother Juanita Pieters had been trying to poison him.

The officer says Saunders wanted to "get back at" Pieters by going after her child.

He has testified that he believes while Saunders doesn't pose a real risk to the public, he does pose a high risk to the "weak and vulnerable" like children.

'HE DESERVES TWO LIFE SENTENCES'

Supporters of the Pieters family say her killer deserves the harshest possible sentence.

A group of residents from Elsies River and other communities were at court on Tuesday.

Demonstrator Manecia Botha said: “We want two life sentences because what he did was very brutal. That was really a brutal murder and was a shock to Elsies River.”

FAMILY NOT COPING

A social worker testifying in aggravation of sentence against Saunders ha told the court the family of the murdered three-year-old is still not coping.

Social worker Evelyn Torode counselled the minor’s family after her murder.

She says each family member dealt with the loss in different ways.

Torode says Juanita's health worsened after her daughter's death.

The child's step-father Aaron Fourie has not expressed his emotions, but he does feel anger towards Saunders, the little girl's sister also feels slightly guilty over the death and is "acting out" by bullying other children, Torode added.

She says according to the eldest daughter, 21-year old Andrea Pieters, the family was hoping the matter would be finishing up on Tuesday, as it's been more than a year since her baby sister's death.

"I feel that no matter what the sentence is, for me it still won't be enough. It won't bring closure; it'll just feel like at least something happened after what he did," Torode has told the court.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)