Cape Town - Courtney Pieters’ life and heart is as pure as the white coffin in which her body is, a deacon at the Old Apostolic Church in Elsies River said on Saturday.
Ronald van Rensburg was one of the preachers at the 3-year-old's funeral service.
Her body was found in a deserted industrial area in Epping last Saturday, after she had gone missing on May 4.
A friend of her father’s, Mortimer Saunders, 40, was arrested for her rape and murder.
The funeral service was attended by hundreds of people, some on motorbikes and others in brass bands, Netwerk24 reported.
Courtney’s family sat on a white couch behind the coffin. Her mother, Juanita Pieters kept her head down throughout the service.
Van Rensburg said Courtney had crept into many hearts in the past two weeks. He said if parents spent time every day to talk about God, there would be less violence in communities. He compared Courtney’s funeral to a wedding.
“Everyone is here today to see Courtney’s beautiful wedding dress - her life. Her dress is beautiful and clean.”
Another preacher, deacon Vernon Nogabie, asked the family to move on from Courtney’s death. “She hasn’t died in vain. Yes, it hurts, but God has fetched what is His.” He said Courtney’s death has also highlighted child safety.
Nogabie made an appeal to the community to let justice run its course.
The Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, also attended the service. He asked the public to keep Saunders’ family in their prayers and not condemn them.
Roegshanda Pascoe, the Pieters family’s spokesperson, said Saunders’ parents had wanted to attend the funeral, but feared for their lives.
A family friend, Marsha Wenn, said everyone had a soft spot for the toddler. “She will always stay in our hearts.