Miguel Louw's family gather outside and comfort each other after the court case at the Durban High court. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)
Miguel Louw's family gather outside and comfort each other after the court case at the Durban High court. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Agonising wait for Miguel Louw’s family

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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DURBAN - THE family of 9-year-old Miguel Louw said they had to wait an agonising few weeks more until the man responsible for his death was sentenced.

Mohamed Vahed Ebrahim, 46, appeared in the Durban High Court on Monday for arguments on sentencing. Ebrahim was found guilty of premeditated murder, kidnapping and theft by Judge Jacqueline Henriques on December 7, 2020.

Louw was last seen in the presence of Ebrahim at an eatery in Sydenham in July 2018. Louw’s decomposed body was found in a shallow grave in Longbury Drive, Phoenix, near Ebrahim’s home in September 2018. Ebrahim was arrested on December 5, 2018.

Convicted for the kidnapping and murder of Miguel Louw, Mohammed Ebrahim sat in the Durban High Court waiting for his sentencing to begin. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

According to the probation officer and social worker Thobile Sikhakhane’s report submitted to the court, Ebrahim’s intimate relationship patterns could not be learnt because he had failed to provide these details. Ebrahim’s sister Zulsia Yunus reported that he took good care of his parents. Both died in 2019 while he was awaiting trial.

Sikhakhane said Ebrahim met Raylene Louw, Miguel’s mother, at their workplace. They became friends and as time passed she introduced him to her family as a colleague.

When Ebrahim lost his job he started helping the family with maintenance at their home in Sydenham. Ebrahim was painting the house but said that travelling expenses to Phoenix were high. The Louw family accommodated him in a spare room until he completed the job.

Sikhakhane said Ebrahim laughed most of the time during the interview and was quick to accuse others and shift the blame from himself. She said the first step in reconstructing self was to acknowledge one’s mistake.

Ebrahim did not have any history of mental illness or suffer from any psychological illnesses. Ebrahim told Sikhakhane that he had left the Louw home on the day Miguel was reported missing.

Ebrahim reported that he last saw Miguel when he took him to a KFC in Sydenham, and maintained that he left the child to wait for his older sister to come back from school.

According to Raylene Louw’s victim impact statement, she felt like her son had been ripped from her and the family even though he lived in their memories. She said Ebrahim’s lack of remorse was disturbing, and that it was hard to understand that the person they had welcomed to their home could turn out to be so cruel.

Defense advocate Jay Naidoo discussed the case with his client Mohammed Ebrahim, during a few minutes interval at the Durban High Court. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Louw said Miguel was found in such a horrific condition that his body could not be viewed.

She had to reconcile herself with the fact that she needed to face the future without her son, and felt the sentence imposed must not allow Ebrahim to be released and do this to anyone else.

Sikhakhane recommended an appropriate sentence of imprisonment because it balanced aspects of deterrence, punishment and rehabilitation.

In her victim impact statement, Miguel’s grandmother Arelene Omardeen said they were devastated and that their lives had come to a standstill.

“It has left a permanent scar on the entire family.”

Miguel’s sister, Mikayla Louw, 16, said he brought out the laughter in them. She would not be able to celebrate birthdays, Christmas or New Year’s with her brother anymore.

“ I wish I could see him and tell him everything will be okay,” she wrote.

Defence Advocate Jay Naidoo, Ebrahim’s lawyer, in his argument for an alternative sentence other than life, said nobody knew the circumstances under which Miguel died.

“There is insufficient evidence or records to suggest whether any violence was inflicted on Miguel. There is a two-month gap in the evidence between Miguel’s disappearance and when his body was found.”

Naidoo said this left the door open to a number of different scenarios in the absence of evidence to suggest that Ebrahim inflicted any violence. Naidoo said Ebrahim was involved in a manipulative relationship with Louw as per their WhatsApp text messages.

“Should he be removed permanently from society or imprisoned for a lesser period to be allowed to rehabilitate? In prison, he can join programmes on how to deal with manipulative lovers and to keep his emotions in check,” Naidoo told the court.

Naidoo said Ebrahim should not be considered a menace to society.

Senior State Advocate Kelvin Singh described it as a crime of passion, and said Ebrahim had betrayed the family trust. The matter was adjourned until Friday for a date to be set for sentencing.

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