Anti-child abuse activists yesterday welcomed the conviction of three-year-old Poppie van der Merwe’s parents on charges of murder and child abuse, but said they believed the people who knew about her abuse and did nothing should also be in the dock.
Annari du Plessis, of the Go Purple Foundation, said there were many more Poppies out there whose lives were in danger and who were in desperate need of help, but were failed by social workers and the police.
“The verdict is good that they’re both guilty, but we’re not happy that it was only those two accused in the dock, because we knew there were a lot of more people who saw what was going on, took pictures and did nothing,” said Du Plessis.
“There should be more people standing here. The social workers, the people who knew about it. When are we going to make an example of them?
“What upset me the most was the fact that the doctor who was standing in front of her dead body then wanted to call the police. Why didn’t anyone call in the police before? Why didn’t anyone do more to remove these kids before she was killed?
“In the Vaal, we see these things every day. We hear the stories, we’re in the front level as NGOs, but the role players – the social workers and police members – are fighting us. They want us to back off and keep quiet.”
Selina Mokheseng agreed they were told every day to back off because they were not social workers, which was to the detriment of the victims.
Poppie’s grandmother, Helena Bothma, however, said she was not happy about the fact that both accused were convicted, as she believed her daughter would not have murdered her own child.
“We can only hope and pray that things will be better with the sentence proceedings further on. That’s all I want to say. I’m not feeling well,” she said.