- Melvyn Volkwyn pleaded not guilty to the murder of Orderick Lucas in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
- The one-year-old was found dead in a stormwater drain two years ago.
- Volkwyn was a friend of Orderick's mother, Davidene.
He gave the little boy back to his mother - this was the only explanation given by child murder accused Melvyn Volkwyn when his trial for the murder of one-year-old Orderick Lucas commenced in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
Volkwyn and his former friend Davidene Lucas faced off on Day 1 of proceedings, with Lucas maintaining that Volkwyn had never handed her son back to her two years ago.
Lucas did not have custody of any of her four children at the time of Orderick's murder.
The toddler and twin brothers had been placed in the care of her mother, Cornelia Scheepers, by social services. Her oldest daughter lived with her paternal family.
Lucas, who admitted to being a drug user, told the court her sons had spent the weekend of Orderick's disappearance with her.
She testified that that Sunday, hairdresser Volkwyn - who she described as a "good friend" - had arrived at her home during his lunch break. They had smoked Mandrax and he had left after his colleagues called him as a customer had arrived.
That night, she said she had taken Orderick back to her mother, who was celebrating her 50th birthday. They had had an argument over a rash in Orderick's nose and a bump against his head sustained by hitting his head against a light switch, she said.
Her mother would not take the little boy, instructing her to take Orderick to the clinic. Lucas said she had already taken her son the day before, but she left with him, nevertheless.
"He wasn't supposed to be with me. He was supposed to be with my mother [as instructed by the children’s court]."
She said she had gone to a friend's home, where she had smoked tik with him and his girlfriend.
The friend, she said, had a big screen TV and she would watch cartoons with Orderick.
Lucas testified that Volkwyn had arrived at the house and had asked her to buy drugs at a nearby dealer while he kept an eye on Orderick.
She had said "no", telling him to go and purchase it himself as she was watching Tarzan with her son.
Not long after, a group of people had ostensibly arrived, accusing her of stealing a cellphone and selling it to another man.
She alleged they had forced her to go with them, and she had left Orderick with the friend as the group had been aggressive and she feared he would get hurt.
She said they had passed Volkwyn as they went to the person who the group said she had sold the phone to.
Lucas claimed to have been assaulted by the mob and was kicked until she passed out.
Her mother and brother heard of what had happened and went to fetch her, taking her to their home and treating her wounds.
She said she lay down and fell asleep. Her mother had not gone to fetch Orderick from the friend's house, despite her telling her where to find him, she testified.
Addressing the court in Afrikaans, she said he had gone to the friend’s house early the next morning. The friend said Volkwyn had come to fetch him, although they had said they would take him home themselves.
"Mel said Orderick knows him. I didn't have a problem with it - I thought it was safe for him to be with Mel."
She had gone to the police station for a J88 form and went to Eerste River Hospital where her head wounds were attended to.
That night, on her way to her mother's home in Wittebol Close, she had passed Volkwyn and a friend.
"I asked Mel where Orderick was. He said he is safe at my mother's house."
She and the friend who had been accompanying her had then turned back.
She had returned to work on a vineyard in Stellenbosch on the Tuesday. She worked the Wednesday but had missed the truck that picks her up for work that Thursday.
"I went to my mother's house that morning with coffee, sugar and milk. I asked her if Orderick was at creche and she said Orderick had never arrived home.
"I left everything and went to the hair salon where he worked and lived. [A woman who worked there] said he didn't stay there anymore."
A friend had told her that Volkwyn was at a nearby friend's house.
"Mel opened the door and I asked where Orderick was. He said he gave Orderick to me. I told him to think carefully, because he didn't give my child to me."
She reported her son as missing at the local police station and a search ensued.
Orderick's body was found in a drain metres form his grandmother's house on 2 April.
Off-duty police sergeant David Joshua told the court a group of children had come to him that day at about 16:00, saying there was a body in the nearby stormwater drain where the ball they had been playing with had rolled into.
He and a neighbour had blocked the scene with a car and had lifted the heavy plastic cover to check what they had found before he phoned his seniors at the Kleinvlei police station.
Joshua said he knew Orderick's grandmother and she and his wife had been friends. He didn't know Davidene, but had met Volkwyn, who had worked at his friend's wife's hair salon.
Lucas had testified that she had lost custody of Orderick after he broke his arm.
According to her, Volkwyn had sent her to buy tik and Mandrax and she had left her son with him while she went to the drug dealer.
When she returned, she saw "something wasn't right" with his arm.
She hadn't asked Volkwyn what happened to her child. When she took him to Eerste River Hospital, it was confirmed that his arm had been broken and social services were informed.
Following an investigation, the Children's Court placed the children in the care of her mother and her stepfather.
She testified that Orderick had slept over at Volkwyn's home before without her.
The trial continues on Tuesday.