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By Ilse de Lange


Three-year-old Poppie was already dead on arrival at hospital, court hears

The girl's parents stand accused of murdering her in October last year.

Three-year-old Poppie van der Merwe was already dead by the time her stepfather and mother took her to hospital, the High Court in Pretoria has heard.

Paramedic Morris de Beer said he was at the Brits district hospital when Kobus Koekemoer, Poppie’s stepfather, arrived in his bakkie and jumped out with Poppie in his arms.

The little girl did not move and appeared to be dead. De Beer started CPR on her when he could not find a pulse. Koekemoer said she had stopped breathing.

The child was only dressed in a pair of panties and had no other clothes on. De Beer saw she had bruises and marks on her body and a huge bump on her head.

Koekemoer said the child had been injured during the bakkie ride on the way to hospital. De Beer had trouble opening Poppie’s mouth, which he said was an indication that rigor mortis had already started to set in.

A doctor stopped him from continuing with CPR after pronouncing the child dead.

Dr Richard Gumbu, who declared Poppie dead, testified that Koekemoer had initially told him he whipped the girl and she then collapsed.

But after the police became involved, Koekemoer claimed she had suddenly collapsed while watching television.

Gumbu noted numerous injuries and bruises on Poppie’s body, from her head down to her legs, including bruises on her private parts.

The couple denied guilt to charges of murdering Poppie on October 25 last year, severely assaulting her and a five-year-old boy and abusing both children and another 14-year-old girl.

Tanya Goosen, who took care of the boy after school while the family lived in Orania, testified that he suffered severe temper tantrums and had once punched her.

When she told the parents, they laughed and said she should hose him down with cold water, which is what they did to calm him down.

He often had bruises and told her his stepfather dragged him on the ground, kicked him and his sister in the stomach and hit them with a wooden spoon.

An emotional Goosen said she could see the little boy was afraid of the Koekemoers as he became anxious and panic-stricken when he saw them. – ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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