ARRESTED: The 40-year-old suspect was a trusted family friend and tenant in house
The mother of murdered three-year-old Courtney Pieters says she is “disturbed” after the arrest of a trusted family friend and tenant who lived in the family home.

Police confirmed on Monday morning that a 40-year-old man had been arrested on Sunday night in Elsies River, one street away from the girl’s Pluto Street home.

SAPS spokesperson FC van Wyk said: “Investigators who worked around the clock to ensure that the perpetrator who is responsible for the death of Courtney Pieters, whose body was found on Saturday in Bofors Circle, Epping Industria, led to the arrest of a suspect.

“The 40-year-old suspect was arrested at Saturn Close, Salberau, Elsies River, and once he has been charged, he is expected to appear in the Goodwood Magistrates’ Court on a charge of murder.

Courtney’s body was found on a field, hidden under branches, by a search party on Saturday at 1.30pm.

The child had been missing for nine days.

The tenant is known to be extremely friendly and charming to all who met him.

Courtney’s mother Juanita Pieters told the Daily Voice she was completely comfortable leaving her children with him.

For nine days the 40-year-old joined the family as they searched, consoling them and even attending prayer meetings.

He even told the Daily Voice on Sunday morning while parents Juanita and Aaron Fourie were viewing the body of their daughter at the morgue: “This is so sad. I don’t know what to do to help the parents.

“We can only pray, ne. She was such a cute girl, always so playful and looking for a R1. She was such a joy to everyone who knew her.”

Juanita says she feels betrayed by her once close friend: “I am grateful that he was caught and I hope he gets punished for hurting my child. I have lost my entire world.

“I trusted this man around my family and he took my child away from me. He killed her and he must pay for what he did. I will make sure.”

Courtney’s aunt, Magdelene Petersen, told the Cape Argus the suspect was Aaron’s childhood friend and a “decent” man.

“For Aaron, Courtney’s father, this hasn’t sunk in. A lot of people were asking us if we trust him and if he might not have been involved, we defended him because we thought we knew him,” she said.

“My niece loved him as he would buy her chips and sweets, he would call her to the room to watch cartoons as he had DStv.”