JOHANNESBURG - The mother and stepfather of a three-year-old North West girl have been found guilty of her murder.
It’s been revealed that Poppie van der Merwe was the victim of severe child abuse.
Judgment was handed down in the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.
According to the post-mortem report, the little girl's death was caused by one or several blows to the head.
She was allegedly beaten, kicked, and thrown around.
Over the past month, shocking details emerged in court of alleged physical and verbal abuse that Poppie and her six-year-old brother endured at the hands of the couple.
The Koekemers sat staring down with their heads bowed while listening to the judgment.
Judge Bert Bam slammed authorities in the Northern Cape town of Orania, where the family lived until shortly before Poppie’s death, for not taking action even though the abuse was reported to various authorities:
"The matter was very serious, it involved toddlers yet, surprisingly, authorities including doctors, social workers, teachers, and even dominees (pastors) where bound by a duty to do so, but failed their duty, for unknown reasons, to take appropriate steps to protect the children, and shifted the blame. It may even be argued that these people are accomplices," said Bam.
The family of the Koekemoers, responded to the judgement by saying they still did not believe they were guilty.
The Go Purple Foundation, however, welcomed the ruling.
Sentencing procedures are due to start in the North Gauteng High Court next February.