President Visits Murdered Child’s Family: “Time to Unite Against Crime, Something Has Gone Wrong”

CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma paid a visit Thursday afternoon, 18 May, to the family of the little three-year-old girl – Courtney Pieters – who was tragically found murdered and buried in a shallow grave in Elsies River, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Just over 10 days ago, missing posters had gone up looking for the little girl who went missing on 4 May. It turned out she was raped and murdered by a family friend.

A visibly upset President Zuma expressed shock and repulsion at the gruesome killing, and reiterated that violence against women and children has been declared a priority crime in South Africa.

Courtney was raped twice before being murdered and buried in a shallow grave in Bofors Circle in Epping, Industria, after going missing from her Pluto Street home in Elsies River in the Western Cape.

Her alleged killer, 40-year-old Mortimer Saunders, is in custody and the case will return to court on 24 May.

After talking privately with Courtney’s bereaved family, Zuma said: “I’m beyond understanding that a man who stayed here could rape the child, kill the child in the bedroom, and… as the father was describing – break every bone in order to make the child fit in the plastic [so that he could take her body out the house to throw it away].”

Zuma said he couldn’t even call it “cold hearted”, it just couldn’t be described: “It shows something has gone wrong in our society. He pretended he don’t know, and was going out with the family to look for the child, while he was leaving the child in the room, and finally he took the child to throw the child away… ”

The President said he had come to visit the family to express his sympathies, which he’d done inside… “but also listened to the plight of the family itself… but I believe there is something that has gone wrong in our country.

“The rate at which children are being murdered and raped by men. And other women as well [being raped]. What is new now is that they’re being killed by people they know…”

Courtney was reportedly the nineteenth child to have been murdered in the Western Cape this year.

In a statement earlier today, the President said: “We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Pieters family and to all other families of the women who have been brutally murdered or attacked in various ways in the past few days in parts of the country.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the families during this difficult period. The incidents have caused untold pain amongst South Africans and this is the time for us to unite and isolate these cruel perpetrators of this shameful and hateful crime against women and children.”

Watch President Zuma speak outside Courtney Pieters’ home