Kaylah Mentoor saw him as the man she could trust with her three-year-old son, Liyaqat, but a diary paints another picture of the former boyfriend, who now stands accused of her child’s murder.
Liyaqat, or Lee, has been missing for 44 days and in that time the SAPS and volunteers have scoured the open spaces and hills around Roodekrans, in Roodepoort, searching for the little boy.
The man, who police suspect was involved in Lee’s disappearance, has remained tight-lipped about the fate of the toddler.
Police don’t want his name made public as they fear for the safety of his family, but in the last couple of days they have added murder to the charges he faces, so when he appears in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, he will be charged with murder, defeating the ends of justice and kidnapping.
The added murder charge, according to Roodepoort police spokesperson Captain Sonja Prinsloo, is because of forensic evidence found at the house.
Now police are hoping to get a search warrant for the suspect’s house to begin a detailed forensic examination of the property.
But Lee’s family are still holding out hope that the toddler will be found alive. “We have put it in God’s hands,” said Lee’s gran, Shanaaz Botha.
For the boy’s family, Kaylah’s ex-boyfriend appeared to be a loving man who wanted to settle down with Lee’s mother, marry and have children.
“There were no red flags to indicate he was a horrible person. He used to phone me just to tell me how much he loved my daughter.”
But Botha’s opinion of the man changed when they found a diary hidden in a bag he had told Kaylah never to open.
It was believed to have been written by the suspect’s ex-wife. “What you see in the diary, and what we see is a totally different person,” said Estelle Delport, Lee’s aunt.
Botha spent three nights reading the diary. “It says that he has anger issues, was on drugs and was a sex addict who was addicted to porn,” said Botha.
The diary portrayed a moody man who people avoided and feared because of his explosive temper. That anger, revealed in one of the diary entries, was directed at his sick young son.
“Thabiso* coughed and his dad shouted and threatened to hit him for coughing! So I painfully watched my son apologise every time he coughed.”
His ex-wife also referred to him as the “Raging Bull” who “got physical with his (own) mother”.
She also described his drug taking and obsession with pornography. “Bring him a plate with lines of whatever they take and he has the enthusiasm of a toddler at the sight of its favourite food. He is stimulated by worldly things that destroy like drugs and pornography.”
Lee was reported missing on March 17. Two weeks earlier, Kaylah had moved in with her ex. She was working at the time and would leave Lee with him during the day.
The suspect would later claim that on March 16 he had taken Lee to Botha’s house. There, a couple in a car had claimed that they were relatives of Botha and had taken the child. “But his story has changed, first the car was red, then it was silver,” said Botha.
Earlier this week, 205 volunteers, with mounted police, drones and helicopters, searched three areas close to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort.
However, they found nothing and the search for Lee continues.