“Please mommy, please tell me that he will be fine and come home. Please tell me he is not dead.” These were the words the 13-year-old daughter of Pretoria policeman Kenneth Poortman said to his wife, Sergeant Ann Poortman, when she tried to tell her children their father had been killed.
“Those words I will never forget. I couldn’t even correct my kids and tell them the truth,” said Poortman, who was speaking for the first time since her husband’s murder late last year. She is also a member of the police force. The policeman’s body was found on a stretch of road along the Mobopane highway on December 27. Ann said the last time she saw him alive he was going out of the house and his sense of humour left a smile on her face.
“We were relaxed at home and he wanted to go out to play pool. I stayed at home as I was on standby. He changed from his shorts and asked me does he look good. “Normally I would ignore him with a smile, but this time I told him he looked very smart and we laughed together.” Poortman said she had felt uneasy that night and by 5am she realised something was amiss.
She and a friend started driving around looking for her husband and then she was notified about a murder. “I told the officer at the scene to send me the information that he had and I would come as soon as possible. When I read the SMS something just didn’t sit right with me. I called the forensic photographer and asked him to describe the clothes of the deceased.He started with the shoes and jeans … and I threw the phone down. I just knew.”
Ann rushed to the scene but the body had already been removed. Frantic, she asked officers at the scene to describe the deceased and her worst nightmare was confirmed. “I went to the mortuary and I could see his arms, his watch. Only his arms,” she said, breaking down into tears Just hours after her husband’s body was found, two men were arrested. Then the third and fourth suspects were arrested.
It’s understood they all had cases pending against them and were out on bail at the time of the incident. Apparently they befriended Poortman at a pub in the CBD where he was playing snooker that night. They had a drink together and later one of the four stabbed him several times. His body was driven away in his own car and dumped on the side of the road.
On Wednesday Ann broke down as she faced her husband’s alleged killers for the first time when they appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court. “They stabbed him. Without stopping. They killed him. They showed no emotion. That’s just life to them and how they are.
“They have no emotion. It was just so much pain to see them, and the way they acted made it worse.” Sipho Tlou, Thabo Mampa, Themba Mbowane and Steven Meda will reappear in court in March after abandoning their bail applications. Poortman, who is also the mother of a seven-year-old boy, said she is expected to return to work next week and has been taking life day by day. She said she was thankful for the support of family, friends and colleagues.
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