Alleged child killer Melvin Volkwyn was seen dragging a suitcase through the streets of Kleinvlei, Cape Town, at 04:40 two months ago, hours after 22-month-old Orderick Lucas was last seen alive.
This is one of numerous aspects of the State's case against the hairstylist charged with the toddler’s murder and kidnapping as his bail application got underway in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
Volkwyn sat in the dock and shook his head as prosecutor Nathan Adriaanse referred to witness statements collected by investigating officer Koos Van Wyk contained in an affidavit.
Adriaanse conceded that the State's case was circumstantial, but that the statements created a timeline detailing Orderick's last hours alive.
On March 24, Volkwyn took Orderick – his friend Davedine Lucas’s son – when he left a mutual friend’s house.
Davedine had been accused of stealing a cellphone and angry locals asked her to go with them to show where it was.
Another witness told the police that she had seen Volkwyn carrying Orderick hours later, at about 00:30.
The child had been covered with a brown jacket and the witness claimed he had asked her to keep the child while he jumped over a wall.
She said she handed the boy over to Volkwyn and had heard him cry as they walked away.
At about 01:00, a separate witness had gone to Volkwyn and saw Orderick lying on a mattress. This was the last time the child was seen alive, Adriaanse said.
Another witness had gone to collect clothes from Volkwyn at about 06:00, but didn’t see Orderick there.
According to the State, the toddler was believed to have been killed between 01:00 and 06:00.
Volkwyn claims to have returned the child to Lucas at about 07:00 that morning.
She denied this, as she had been told Orderick was with him. She had gone to hospital after she was assaulted the night before.
On March 26, a witness waiting for her lift to arrive said she saw Volkwyn dragging a suitcase down the street.
The woman had asked him where he was going so early in the morning but he didn’t answer her, she told police.
The suitcase appeared heavy and Volkwyn was walking toward the area where the child's body was later found.
A post-mortem report could not determine what had led to Orderick’s death.
As his body was severely decomposed, it could not yet find whether he died of natural causes or if he had been murdered.
The pathologist did not, however, exclude that he may have been strangled, Adriaanse pointed out.
Volkwyn was initially only charged with Orderick's kidnapping. This was changed to murder after his decomposing remains were found in a drain near his grandmother's house by children playing in the street.
Orderick had lived with his grandmother Cornelia Scheepers in Wittebol Street, Melton Rose, but had been in his mother's care at the time of his disappearance.
Lucas claimed Volkwyn had told her that Monday that he had returned the child to Scheepers, but it was only when she went to visit her son at her mother's house that Thursday that she discovered that he had never been returned.
Volkwyn’s attorney Crystal Paulse said the State had a weak case against her client. She said Volkwyn wanted to have the matter go to trial and should be granted bail.
"He is more determined now to prove his innocence," she argued.
But Adriaanse countered that Volkwyn had a history of evasion, as was the case with three of four matters he had previously been charged with. He had also in the past provided authorities with false names.
Two of these cases had eventually been withdrawn.
Volkwyn had two previous convictions for drug possession and shoplifting, for which he was handed suspended sentences.
The defence had also during bail proceedings handed up a petition containing 515 signatures of people calling for Volkwyn’s release on bail.
However, Adriaanse argued that some of the signatories were from outside the area, while other names had no signatures nor addresses.
He also pointed out duplications in the document.
Adriaanse asked that the petition be disregarded, including one from people opposing Volkwyn’s release, on similar grounds.
Volkwyn had claimed to live with his father who needed to be supported, but Adriaanse said it was found that he also resided at the home of the owner of the salon for which he worked.
The woman had told police that since Orderick’s murder, she had lost all her clients.
She had his belongings cleared out in March after she hadn’t seen him in four days.
Judgment in Volkwyn's bail application is expected on June 12.