Pretoria - Drama broke out on Wednesday morning, minutes before the stepfather of Poppie van der Merwe, Kobus Koekemoer and his wife Louisa had to appear in court, with Kobus apparently trying to commit suicide.
Kobus and Louisa were waiting in the holding cells to be called up to the courtroom for their case to be postponed to April 18, when he collapsed in the cells.
According to sources he was drinking from a bottle containing foul smelling dark liquid. The bottle was already half by then and it is believed that he started drinking the liquid while en route to court earlier.
Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, Judge Bert Bam was told about the situation and the case stood down as an ambulance is on its way to attend to Kobus.
This is his second alleged suicide attempt, as he, shortly after his arrest and around the time of his bail application, tried to slit his wrists.
Louisa, who was held in another cell on Wednesday, 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.
Judge Bam was due to simply postpone the case to April 18, as the advocate appearing for Kobus Koekemoer 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 in the Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, of the child’s murder.
The pair will now in April submit arguments to court and possibly call witnesses to testify in mitigation of sentence.
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.
But Louisa throughout the trial claimed that her husband was an aggressive man and that she too, suffered under his tempter. It is expected that she will call witnesses to collaborate these claims.
Kobus, on the other hand, during the trial said as a child he had received severe hidings from his parents and he believed that children had to chastised.
Poppie died on October 25, 2016, from blunt force trauma to the head. By the time Kobus ran with her in his arms into the Brits Hospital, she had already been dead for some time.
The pair turned on each other during the trial, blaming the other for the fatal blow to the head. Kobus's version was that Louisa had, in a fit of rage, flung the child out of the bedroom door that morning and that the child’s head hit the wall.
Louisa’s version was that her husband had hit the child’s head against the kitchen cupboard the previous night, as he had done before. He then dealt the child’s lifeless body a final kick the next day, some hours before she had died of brain injuries.
But Judge Bam made it clear: It did not matter who did what. The fact remained that either one witnessed the other injuring the child and did nothing to prevent the other from hurting her.