Poppie's parents beat her, cut off her hair, hosed her with icy water - court hears

2017-03-28 21:07
Poppie van der Merwe. (Facebook)

Poppie van der Merwe. (Facebook)

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Brits - Poppie van der Merwe, 3, and her five-year-old brother were shouted at, kicked, hit, doused with icy water in winter and thrown against solid objects.

The hair of the little blond girl, who had her mother's given names, was cut shortly before she died.

People in the community thought it had been done as a reprimand, Netwerk24 reports.

Charge sheet

Poppie's mom and stepfather - Louisa, 46, and Kobus Koekemoer, 44 - appeared in the Brits Magistrate's Court for the last time on Tuesday to face the charges.

The prosecutor, Advocate Salome Scheepers, said the couple's trial would start in the Pretoria High Court on October 30.

The director of public prosecution gave instructions that the charges against the Koekemoer couple be centralised, as the various alleged incidents on the charge sheet had taken place in Orania, Hopetown and Brits, which had their own court jurisdictions.

According to the charge sheet, they face a charge of murder, two of assault with the intent to seriously injure both Poppie and her brother, and a charge of child abuse regarding Poppie, her brother and her step-sister.

All the alleged incidents took place between September 2015 and October 2016.

The court document started with these words: "While the accused were husband and wife, they both had a legal duty to protect and nurture the children."

Two small children

The document explained that Louisa had a 15-year-old daughter (who had a different father), as well as Poppie and her brother.  

Louisa and Kobus moved into the same house in Orania in September 2015. They were married on November 14 of that year, and Louisa's three children moved with them.

The case file says: "The teenager was chased out of the house and she went to live with her granny. She was forbidden to go home and the emotional and verbal abuse against her continued."

Both accused also allegedly physically and emotionally abused the two small children.

"Although the State does not really know the exact conditions, the accused, among others, shouted at, hit, kicked, pulled or twisted their ears, put the hosepipe on them during freezing weather, cut off the girl's hair and threw them against solid objects.

"During this period, the children regularly suffered injuries and had bruises. They also exhibited improper emotional behaviour."

Assaulted the children

Social workers started monitoring and assessing the children's surroundings.  The charge sheet said they considered removing the children from the accused's care. Louisa and Kobus then fled Orania with Poppie and her brother in September 2016.

They moved to Brits on October 3. Poppie was "seriously assaulted" on October 25.

"The deceased's body was riddled with bruises and marks. The cause of death: head injuries as a result of assault with a blunt instrument.

"The State will allege that both the accused were active participants in assaulting the children. In cases where just one adult committed the act, the other actively encouraged or didn't protect the children and disregarded his or her legal duty."

The Koekemoers remain in custody.

Poppie's paternal grandmother and grandfather sat behind the accused in the public gallery. They travelled more than four hours from their home to attend the court case.

A picture of a laughing Poppie was pinned to the grandfather's shirt.

* The grandfather and grandmother, Poppie and her brother and her stepsister may not be identified because the children are minors and foster parent procedures are currently underway.

Read more on:    poppie van der merwe  |  kobus koekemoer  |  pretoria  |  crime

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