Community members had to scramble to find an alternative venue for the service on Saturday, after church leaders from the Old Apostolic Church in Matroosfontein informed the family on Wednesday that they could not be accommodated.
The funeral for the child from Salberau, Elsies River, will now take place at the Adriaanse Community Hall next to Clarke Estate.
Community members assisting the family with funeral arrangements said it was upsetting that the family cannot bury Courtney at her own church.
One woman, who is a member of the same church, and asked not to be named, believes suspect Mortimer Saunders’ father was behind the shocking decision.
“Priest Saunders would have to oversee the funeral and that is never going to happen. His son is then the [suspect]. It makes me sick,” says the kerksuster.
“Now she is going to be buried from some cold hall. She has gone to that church since she was a baby.
“Who refuses to bury a child?”
Courtney’s mother, Juanita Pieters, said she was told to find an alternative church.
“The reason Courtney will be buried from the Adriaanse Hall is because the church said they will be doing preparations for the Sealing Service happening on Sunday.
“The church is apparently not available this Saturday as they get it ready for this special service that we have,” says the grieving mom.
“Mortimer’s father is our Priest and the ouderling of our congregation and he would under normal circumstances do a service if one of our members died.
“I guess that is why we had to make another plan and also find another ouderling to bury my child.”
The Daily Voice visited Priest Saunders’ home yesterday, but there was no answer.
He did also not respond to calls on his cellphone.
No one was at the Old Apostolic Church in Holley Crescent, Matroosfontein.
When the Daily Voice contacted the church’s District Office, we were told it was an “emergency line” for church-related problems, and not media enquiries.