Pretoria - Little Poppie van der Merwe’s biological mother Louisa Koekemoer appeared alone in court on Wednesday, while her estranged husband and co-accused, Kobus Koekemoer, were waiting in the holding cells for the ambulance to arrive as he allegedly tried to commit suicide.
It was not known by going to print what his condition is, other than that he was taken to hospital.
The drama broke out on Tuesday morning in the holding cells at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, minutes before Kobus, Poppie’s stepdad and Louisa were due to briefly appear in court for their murder trial to be postponed.
Kobus and Louisa were waiting in the holding cells to be called up to courtroom GB when he collapsed in the cells.
According to sources he was drinking from a bottle containing foul smelling dark liquid, suspected to be detergent. The bottle was already half empty by then and it is believed that he started drinking the liquid while en route from jail to court earlier.
A source said he had collapsed in the cells and he was made to lie on a chair. He also threw up and according to the source he did not look well at all.
Read more: Poppie's stepdad 'attempts suicide'
Judge Bert Bam was told about the situation and the case stood down for a while as an ambulance was called.
Louisa appeared alone in court more than an hour later and prosecutor Salome Scheepers told the judge that Kobus was not well. She told the judge she went down to the cells herself to check on Kobus.
Scheepers told the court that it was suspected that he may have been trying to commit suicide, as a bottle with an unknown substance was found on him. She said she sniffed the contents and it was “definitely not cold drink.” Scheepers told the judge it smelt of some form of detergent.
Judge Bam enquired whether the necessary medical help was on its way, before he postponed the matter to April 18.
This is his second alleged suicide attempt, as he, shortly after his arrest and around the time of his bail application, apparently tried to slit his wrists.
Louisa, who was held in another cell on Tuesday, close to that of Kobus, apparently did not know about the alleged suicide attempt. When she was told she apparently remarked that it was not the first time he had done this.
While it was confirmed from a source that Kobus was taken by ambulance to a hospital, the Department of Correctional Services could not shed light on his condition.
Spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said due to the fact that Kobus was not yet a sentenced prisoner and because the incident happened at court, he fell under the jurisdiction of the police. He said it would have been different if the incident occurred at correctional services’ premises.
The police also could not shed any light on his condition.
Judge Bam was meanwhile due to simply postpone the case to April 18, as the advocate appearing for Kobus is not available due to illness.
Koekemoer and his wife Louisa Koekemoer were due to be sentenced later this month after they were both convicted in December of Poppies’s murder.
The pair will now in April submit arguments to court and possibly call witnesses to testify in mitigation of sentence.
Poppies’ brutal murder - where she was abused over months and eventually kicked and hit to death, sparked a huge outcry earlier. Kobus and Louisa blamed each other for her death. Louisa said her husband bashed the child’s head against a kitchen cupboard and finally kicked her to death. Kobus said Louisa flung Poppie out of the bedroom for soiling the bed and she hit her head against a wall.
Judge Bam convicted the pair on the doctrine of common purpose. He said it did not matter who had dealt the final blow which caused Poppie’s death, both were equally guilty.