‘The pain stays with us’: Poppie’s grandmother a year on

2017-10-26 14:30
PHOTO: YOU archives

PHOTO: YOU archives

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The murder trial of the mother and stepfather of Poppie van der Merwe will start on Monday in the high court in Pretoria – more than a year after the toddler’s death.

Poppie died on 25 October last year on a smallholding near Brits in North West, allegedly at the hands of her mother, Louisa Koekemoer, and stepfather, Kobus Koekemoer.

The toddler, who’d been severely beaten and kicked, was declared dead upon her arrival at hospital.

Carla van der Merwe, Poppie’s grandmother on her biological father’s side, sent a WhatsApp message to YOU on Wednesday: “The year went by quickly, but the pain stays with us. But there is a God and in His power we find comfort.”

She was unable to confirm whether she, her son – Poppie’s dad, Christo – and her husband, Johan, would feel up to attending the trial.

Christo is broken-hearted after his child’s death. Before she died, he’d allegedly not been allowed to see her very much. He told YOU in a previous interview that he misses his child terribly.

At the time of the tragedy Poppie and her elder brother had only been living with their mom and stepdad on the smallholding for a month since moving there from Orania in the Northern Cape.

Louisa and Kobus met in Orania. They were married in November 2015. The state will argue that Poppie’s abuse had started while the family were still living in Orania.

Kobus was arrested on the day of Poppie’s death and Louisa a few months later. They’ve been behind bars ever since after both were denied bail.

The couple are facing charges of murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and child abuse. A total of 10 days have been set aside for the trial.

Louisa’s mother, Susan Botha, told YOU on Wednesday she hasn’t had any contact with her daughter in months and doesn’t know if she’ll be attending the trial. She lives with family in the Eastern Cape.

“Actually I don’t want to talk to you about these things,” she said.

Poppie was buried in the Westonaria cemetery in Gauteng. In his last letter to his daughter, which he read at the funeral, Christo wrote: “Sleep softly, baby girl. You were only three years old. Your little beloved life was so precious to me.

“Your deep blue eyes and blond curls and your heart of gold. You’ve left a lasting imprint on our hearts and I can still hear you calling my name.”


Read more on:    poppie van der merwe

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