Community outrage as #MortimerSaunders is moved for his safety

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May 25, 2017
Community outrage as #MortimerSaunders is moved for his safety

DEMANDS: Upset Elsies River community members protest outside the Goodwood Magistrates' Court yesterday

Slain Courtney Pieters' murder suspect sent to prison hospital.

Mortimer Saunders, the man accused of raping and killing three-year-old Courtney Pieters, has been granted his wish to get out of jail.

Yesterday, a court ordered that the 40-year-old be held in the hospital section at the Goodwood Prison, for security reasons, after he received death threats in the awaiting-trial section of the prison.

Meanwhile, Courtney’s mother Juanita Pieters, 42, had to be escorted out of court by police after members of her community tried to attack her.

They wanted answers after a newspaper reported that she knew her child had been molested by her alleged killer before her disappearance.

Juanita was taken down to the holding cells immediately after Saunders’ court appearance.

Her eldest daughter, Andrea, 20, told the Daily Voice it was for her own protection.

“The police escorted my mother out because the people wanted to hit her because of the lies people are telling,” she says.

“It is upsetting that people think it is nice to do this to a mother, my mother, who has just lost her baby (Courtney).”

Last Wednesday, minutes before Saunders​ appeared in the Goodwood Magistrates’ Court , he was moered ​by fellow awaiting-trial prisoners in the holding cells below the court when they learnt he was an accused child killer and rapist.

​​Police ​had to rush ​to assist Saunders, who looked asvaal after the incident.

ON TRIAL: Mortimer Saunders received death threats in the awaiting-trial section of prison. CREDIT: Noor Slamdien

As with his first appearance, the court room was jam-packed with Elsies River residents – in addition to those outside in the street, protesting.

Saunders has been charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of little Courtney, who is the youngest child of his childhood friend Aaron Fourie.

He had been boarding with the family in their Pluto Street home when Courtney disappeared from her home.

Courtney went missing on 4 May and was found dead on a field in Bofors Circle, Epping Industria, on 13 May.

Residents searched for nine days for the girl and found her body covered with branches and leaves atop a rubbish heap.

LAW ENFORCED: Cops, with stun grenades, had their hands full at court. CREDIT: Noor Slamdien

Yesterday, Prosecutor Adnaan Gelderbloem asked for a postponement to investigate further.

He said results for DNA tests, forensic reports and witness statements were still outstanding.

At the first appearance, Legal Aid lawyer Colin Lekay told the court Saunders was employed at a call centre, and that his income exceeded the minimum allowed for free Legal Aid representation.

At yesterday’s proceedings, Lekay said that Legal Aid had since allowed his application, but that the accused no longer wanted free Legal Aid representation and had appointed a privately-funded lawyer, Tanya Nockler.

This led to Legal Aid withdrawing from the matter.

At this stage, Saunders chose not to apply for his release on bail, Nockler told the court.

Gelderbloem told the court the investigation was far from completed, and requested Saunders be remanded to 24 August, which Magistrate Paul Visagie granted.

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