‘This isn’t the same Volk­wyn I knew’

For­mer stu­dent and neigh­bours tell of the in­spi­ra­tional lec­turer and loner who shot a po­lice­man and then him­self


FAM­ILY, neigh­bours and a past stu­dent of Michael Volk­wyn, the reclu­sive Athlone man who killed him­self af­ter shoot­ing a po­lice­man, have de­scribed the re­tired me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer and for­mer lec­turer as a bril­liant, in­spi­ra­tional man, and a very pri­vate per­son. But oth­ers have painted a pic­ture of a trou­bled loner who felt the need to de­fend him­self.

Fay­roz Sha Khatieb, a for­mer stu­dent of Volk­wyn’s, who had lec­tured at at Penin­sula Tech­nikon in the 1970s and 1980s, said Volk­wyn in­spired a gen­er­a­tion of en­gi­neers.

“He had an un­ortho­dox style of teach­ing. He never used text­books. He chucked the text­book in the bin. He al­ways de­rived his own for­mu­las. He was clever,” said Khatieb.

“He stut­tered but he was a good teacher. His sub­ject knowl­edge stood out. He was one of the few guys that could re­late the­o­ret­i­cal work to prac­ti­cal work. He was very mo­ti­va­tional.

“He en­cour­aged us to ex­pand our ca­reers. From our class, we have top man­agers. He in­spired us.”

Khatieb added: “I saw an ar­ti­cle about a guy that killed him­self and thought this could not be the same guy. This is not the guy that I knew.”

Larry Lewis knew Volk­wyn for decades, and said his neigh­bour “wasn’t a dis­tur­bance to the neigh­bours”.

“When you know the per­son, you see him dif­fer­ently. Michael was bril­liant. He stud­ied at UCT. That was dur­ing the apartheid era and it wasn’t easy for coloured peo­ple to study there,” said Lewis.

“He was the type of per­son who wouldn’t give up or sur­ren­der. There are ques­tion marks about whether he shot him­self. I don’t think he would have given up and done that.”

Lewis said Volk­wyn built a me­mo­rial in his gar­den for his late fa­ther who was a lawyer. He said at night the me­mo­rial would be lit.

“He was very protective over his things. He chained his pot plants down (to his prop­erty). He put up signs to scare peo­ple off. Maybe he felt in­se­cure and felt that he needed to de­fend him­self,” said Lewis.

Larry’s wife, Marylin Lewis, said Volk­wyn “was just a very pri­vate per­son”.

“Make no mis­take, he was a trou­bled soul. But he trou­bled no one else,” she said.

“When he started a gar­den he had roses. And he gave a rose to ev­ery woman that walked past.

“He had so many roses. That’s the mem­ory that I have of Michael.”

She re­called the time when Volk­wyn was ar­rested for shoot­ing ar­rows at his neigh­bours.

“The time that he shot the MICHAEL Volk­wyn, 61, is be­lieved to have shot him­self in the head when po­lice en­tered his house.

Po­lice and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing a com­plaint that Volk­wyn’s dog had at­tacked a ten­ant on his prop­erty, when Volk­wyn shot po­lice Constable Leroy Scott, 29, in the face on Tues­day night.

Po­lice spokesman Cap­tain FC van Wyk said yes­ter­day Scott was re­cov­er­ing at Vin­cent Pal­lotti Hos­pi­tal in Pinelands.

“He is in the ICU sec­tion of the hos­pi­tal. There’s an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of at­tempted mur­der against (Volk­wyn) af­ter he shot Scott in the face,” said Van Wyk.

“An in­quest has also been opened. When we (po­lice) en­tered the house the old man (Volk­wyn) shot him­self.”

Volk­wyn’s sib­lings on Fri­day ap­pealed to the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate to in­ves­ti­gate the events that led to their brother’s death.

Van Wyk said: “It’s their right to do that. They were there with us on the scene. I don’t want to elab­o­rate on that.”

Rob Volk­wyn said his ar­rows, he was a lit­tle bit trou­bled. He could not take noise. When the chil­dren were play­ing cricket and mak­ing a noise he could not take that. Then he shot the ar­rows,” she said.

“When he heard noise, he would walk around with a base­ball bat and ask, ‘Can’t you hear the noise?’ But I re­ally have no bad things to say about Michael.” brother had been para­noid about the po­lice. He and his two sis­ters al­leged that po­lice had beaten Volk­wyn on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions.

Neigh­bours said po­lice wanted to ac­cess Volk­wyn’s house a num­ber of times to re­move his 13 dogs from the prop­erty on Albe­marle Road in Hazen­dal, Athlone.

Neigh­bour Qan­i­tah Ja­cobs, who saw the po­lice con­fronta­tion with Volk­wyn, said ten­ants of­ten strug­gled to

An­other neigh­bour, Shu­rud Ja­cobs, said Volk­wyn “didn’t worry any­one”.

“He was like those funny peo­ple who have but­ter­flies and dream catch­ers in their house. He had a lot of dogs and you could see all th­ese things in his gar­den,” he said.

“If he wasn’t in a good mood, he would tell the ten­ants to move out. He would go into their house and take get their goods from Volk­wyn “be­cause of his dogs”.

“He was strange. He never used to greet peo­ple. If peo­ple stood around his prop­erty he would tell them to get away. He was just alone all the time and with his dogs.”

She added: “One time he walked with the dogs he had a big sword in his pocket. That was a bit scary.”

“The last ten­ant laid a charge against him (Volk­wyn) with the po­lice. their clothes and put it out on the street. He would never open his door. There were al­ways signs that said ‘Don’t en­ter’. He wouldn’t make a con­ver­sa­tion with you. He never had vis­i­tors over.”

Ja­cobs added: “He was a bit crazy but I don’t think he’s that stupid to com­mit sui­cide… When the task force ar­rived, it’s like they just came to do a mission. The dogs at­tacked her. She was stand­ing on the roof of her car. We then used a wa­ter hose to get the dogs away from her,” said Ja­cobs.

“Since that time, the po­lice wanted to come into his house to take the dogs away. The ten­ant laid a charge against him and left the prop­erty last month. The po­lice came with her to re­move her goods from the prop­erty.”

Ja­cobs said Volk­wyn did not want the po­lice to re­move the dogs and “kept the dogs in­side the house with him”.

“Even­tu­ally they came on to his prop­erty (on Tues­day). We saw smoke bombs and heard gun­shots. Then we saw some­one (Scott) car­ried off the prop­erty,” she said.

“Po­lice of­fi­cers came on to my prop­erty and asked if they could look on to his prop­erty. They said he shot a po­lice of­fi­cer in the face.

“The whole night they were try­ing to let him come out. The next morn­ing we heard gun­shots again and glass break­ing.

“Then we heard that he was dead.”

Ja­cobs said Volk­wyn “just kept to him­self”.

“We only had a prob­lem with his dogs. They used to bark at night and tried to attack peo­ple who walked past his house,” she said.

“They pulled up and walked out five min­utes later. Then they said he was dead and he killed him­self. That was af­ter po­lice were try­ing for 12 hours to get him out of the house.”

Volk­wyn will be buried to­mor­rowafter a fu­neral ser­vice at Lady of Help Chris­tian Church on Imam Ha­roon Road in Lansdowne at 1pm.


‘INSPIRING’: Lec­turer Michael Volk­wyn.


WARN­ING: The Hazen­dal house in which Volk­wyn lived with his 13 dogs.

EX-STU­DENT: Fay­roz Sha Khatieb says he in­spired all.

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