DURBAN - “THANK you Lord! You are the greatest,” said Arlene Omardeen inside the Durban High Court, on Wednesday, seconds after Mohammed Vahed Ebrahim, 46, walked down to the cells to begin his 25-year sentence for the premeditated murder and kidnapping of her grandson, Miguel Louw.
Miguel, 9, was reported missing in July 2018. He had last been seen at an eatery near his Sydenham home, with Ebrahim.
Three months later, his decomposed body was found on vacant land near Ebrahim’s home in Phoenix.
In December, Ebrahim was convicted. Durban High Court Judge Jacqueline Henriques sentenced him to 18 months for theft, 8 years for kidnapping and 25 years for murder.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
The theft relates to Ebrahim stealing Raylene Louw’s ID document; she is the mother of the little boy.
During the trial, it emerged that Ebrahim had worked with Raylene at a butchery. When he lost his job, the Louw family gave him maintenance work at their home. They allowed him to stay on the property until he completed the job, because his travel expenses to Phoenix were high.
Henriques said in deciding on a sentence, the motive was “a crime of passion”. She said: “Ebrahim acted in circumstances of what could be considered diminished responsibility, or emotional storming.”
She said the state alleged and proved Ebrahim killed Miguel to exact revenge on Raylene.
Henriques said Ebrahim showed no remorse and elected not to testify in court, as was his constitutional right.
Omardeen told the Daily News she wanted to put the matter to bed.
“It is over. The family are still coming to grips with the loss,” she said.
Miguel’s aunt, Tasneem Dos Santos, said they were grateful to God that finally justice had been served, and both Miguel and his father, Kurt, could rest in peace.
Kurt died in March, 2020; both of Ebrahim’s parents also died in the same year.
Dos Santos said the family had been through an emotional roller-coaster with court appearances, especially with Raylene having relocated to Johannesburg.
“The judgment was fair and should be an example for others out there who are thinking of doing what Vahed did to us, and robbed an innocent child of his life. Raylene needed the space and change of scenery. She could not move on and progress. There are too many memories of Miguel at home. Raylene still ironed Miguel’s uniform and made lunch, acting like he was still around. She is receiving counselling,” Dos Santos said.
Ebrahim never disclosed how Louw was killed.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that there are monsters out there. They can still walk around like they are innocent after taking an innocent person’s life. Even not standing up and saying what transpired and giving us closure of what happened, and why he did what he did. We will never know the real motive. We are left to pick up the pieces,” Dos Santos said.
Before court, Ebrahim said he was observing the month of Ramadaan on the Muslim faith calendar. He was abstaining from eating or drinking any liquids between dawn and dusk daily. He added that he was fond of biscuits they received to break fast.
He still maintained he was innocent. Investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Rajan Govender thanked the community for their assistance.