Court hears of dead girl’s in­juries

Abused Pop­pie tells teacher mother punched her, giv­ing her black eye. LEG IN PLAS­TER, BLACK EYE, BLUE HEAD

The Citizen (KZN) - - FRONT PAGE - Ilse de Lange ils­edl@cit­i­zen.co.za

Pop­pie van der Merwe, 3, had a blue fore­head, black eye, a leg in plas­ter and bruises of dif­fer­ent ages, says doc­tor.

Three-year old Pop­pie van der Merwe had a blue fore­head, black eye, a leg in plas­ter and bruises of dif­fer­ent ages about three months be­fore her death, a med­i­cal doc­tor has told the High Court in Pre­to­ria.

Dr Ethel Bekker, a med­i­cal doc­tor of Ora­nia in the North­ern Cape, tes­ti­fied in the trial of Pop­pie’s mother, Louisa Koeke­moer, 46, and step­fa­ther, Kobus Koeke­moer, who pleaded not guilty to charges of mur­der­ing Pop­pie, se­ri­ously as­sault­ing the lit­tle girl and a five-year-old boy and abus­ing the two young chil­dren and a 14-year-old girl.

They ad­mit­ted rush­ing Pop­pie to the Brits dis­trict hospi­tal on Oc­to­ber 25 last year, where she was de­clared dead on ar­rival.

Bekker had ex­am­ined the two younger chil­dren last year when they were brought to her by Hei­die Smit of Ora­nia’s so­cial ser­vices board.

Pop­pie was ter­ri­fied and stiff­ened when the doc­tor ap­proached her. She had bruises of dif­fer­ent ages on her hands, fore­arms, feet and ear­lobes, which Bekker at­trib­uted to ex­ces­sive vi­o­lence.

When she saw Pop­pie again in Au­gust, the child had a leg in plas­ter, a huge older bruise on her fore­head and a black eye of be­tween three and four days old. She had a blue el­bow and abra­sions on her palm and un­der her knee. Bekker con­cluded the child had been as­saulted.

The young boy reg­u­larly had uri­nary tract in­fec­tions and she ar­ranged for a con­sul­ta­tion with a pae­di­a­tri­cian, but the par­ents failed to take him. When she saw him in Au­gust, he had a bruise on his back, the palm of his hand was blue and he had abra­sions, which she thought might be due to abuse. She did not re­port the mat­ter to the po­lice be­cause she be­lieved Smit was in­volv­ing so­cial ser­vices in the case. Smit said she had re­ferred the par­ents for coun­selling and ar­ranged for the chil­dren to be ex­am­ined weekly af­ter re­ceiv­ing re­ports from about pos­si­ble abuse from the chil­dren’s day care cen­tre and the Koeke­mo­ers’ neigh­bour. Af­ter the Koeke­mo­ers sud­denly left Ora­nia.

A teacher at the Ora­nia day care cen­tre tes­ti­fied that Pop­pie had ar­rived at school one day with a bruised fore­head and black eye. The child told her that her mother had punched her. On another oc­ca­sion, she saw that all of Pop­pie’s hair was shorn off al­though she was cer­tain the child did not have head lice. –

Pop­pie was ter­ri­fied and stiff­ened when the doc­tor ap­proached her.

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