The mother and ouma of slain toddler Orderick Lucas are set to face criminal charges for the neglect of the 22-month-old boy.
This was revealed at the Western Cape High Court yesterday as another social worker took the stand to clarify the circumstances which led to Orderick and his twin brothers being removed from their mother Davedine’s care.
Bettie Niewoudt, the director of Child Welfare, took to the stand after she was called up by the defence attorney for murder accused Melvin Volkwyn.
Orderick was last seen on 24 March 2019, but it was only four days later when his mother discovered he was missing.
On 2 April 2019, his tiny body was found in a drain a street away from his ouma’s home and Volkwyn was charged with his murder.
This follows claims by Davedine that he was the last person to care for the boy.
Volkwyn has pleaded not guilty and maintains he handed Orderick back to his mother the next day.
Earlier in the murder trial, it was revealed that, on the weekend Orderick was last seen, he was supposed to be at the home of his ouma, Cornelia Scheepers, according to a court order that he be removed from Davedine’s care.
This followed an incident in December 2018 when Orderick was hospitalised with a broken arm.
While Davedine told the court that Volkwyn was responsible for the broken arm, a second social worker testified that at the time she could not give the hospital staff an explanation about what had led to the injury.
Under cross-examination yesterday, Niewoudt explained at the time charges of child abuse, child neglect and contempt of a court order were opened against Davedine and Scheepers.
“The explanation by the mother was clearly indicative of neglect, lack of supervision and she gave two different versions of how the arm could have been broken.
“Pertaining to the removal (of Davedine’s children) it has been heard by the Children’s Court and they were found to be in need of care and protection and placed in a place of safety, but before the case could be finalised, Orderick was deceased.”
She said Child Welfare will be proceeding with the case against Davedine and Scheepers: “My conclusion is that this child has been subjected to secondary neglect, sadly by the persons [Scheepers and her husband] who were responsible to safeguard [him].
“He was taken from the care of persons and it was found he was in need of protection and placed by people who were supposed to protect this child and he was let down by the same people and that led to his death.”