On Wednesday, the murder trial of Kobus and Louisa Koekemoer ended with a guilty conviction for both of them…

Gauteng High Court Judge Bert Bam convicted Poppie van der Merwe’s biological mother and her stepfather of murder, and also found them guilty of child abuse charges related to both Poppie and her brother. The incidents took place between September 2015 and October 2016.

During the trial, both Kobus and Louisa tried to explain Poppie’s horrific injuries by saying she had ‘fallen’, but eventually blamed each other for a fatal blow to her head which ended in the emergency room at Brits provincial hospital.

Dr Richard Gumbu from the hospital testified that the three-year-old was “covered in bruises” when her parents brought her in on 25 October 2016. He said she even had bruises on her private parts.

Gumbu was the one who eventually declared Poppie dead.

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Judge condemns Orania authorities

Judge Bam said that both ‘caregivers’ were equally guilty of the murder of the young child as neither had done anything to prevent her constant abuse.

Judge Bam also slammed the authorities in Orania who had been notified about the abuse, but had not done enough to protect Poppie and her brother.

Murder accused Kobus Koekemoer, stepfather of deceased Poppie van der Merwe during his appearance at the Pretoria High Court on October 30, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Neighbour witnessed father “belittling” children

During the trial, a neighbour said that he had witnessed the abuse of the children and had reported the issue to social services in Orania. However, nothing ever came of the reports and the family moved to Brits shortly afterwards.

According to Jaco Roux, he often heard Poppie screaming next door after she had been ‘scolded’ by her stepfather.

The trial was postponed to 28 February 2018, for pre-sentencing reports.

According to reports, Poppie’s mother burst into tears at the verdict, while her stepfather remained emotionless.

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Murder accused Louisa Koekemoer, mother of deceased Poppie van der Merwe during their appearance at the Pretoria High Court on October 30, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)