Pretoria - More people may be held accountable for the horrific abuse suffered by little Poppie van der Merwe and her five-year-old brother, after an NGO this week laid criminal charges of child abuse against those who saw the bruises on the children's’ bodies, but never alerted the police.
The Go Purple Foundation is of the opinion that not only Poppie’s mother Louisa Koekemoer and stepdad Kobus should be held accountable for her and her brother's abuse over about eight months.
“There are many more who are equally guilty and should be brought to book,” Annari du Plessis told the Pretoria News.
She laid child abuse charges at the Pretoria Central police station against a host of people in positions of authority, who the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, said had failed the three-year-old.
Judge Bert Bam made it clear that although the actions of Louisa Koekemoer, Poppie’s mother and her husband Kobus, had led to her death in October last year, it could have been prevented if those who saw the bruises on her and her brother’s body, had reported it to the police.
The judge even commented that “one could argue that they were accomplices”.
In this unusual step, Du Plessis laid child abuse charges against the teachers at the preschool which Poppie had attended in Orania in the Northern Cape, the doctor who examined her and her brother over months and who noted the bruises on the children but did not contact the SAPS, the Church minister who was told about the abuse, social services and other role players.
“A case filed had been opened and it was sent to the police in Hopetown (the closest town to Orania). I just received a call from the police’s Family and Child Unit in Hopetown who said they have received it. Hopefully, the investigation will now begin.” she told the Pretoria News.
The prosecutor in the area will have to decide on who will be charged and which charges should be added to child abuse.
The list may even grow, du Plessis said, as she had been flooded with new information since the latest turn of events.