South Africa - Durban - 22 October 2019 - Mohamed Vahed Ebrahim the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sydenham schoolboy, Miguel Louw walked in the dock on Tuesday at the start of the trial and smiled and greeted the people in the court public gallery. He nodded his head and pleaded not guilty to all charges of murder, kidnapping and theft. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)
South Africa - Durban - 22 October 2019 - Mohamed Vahed Ebrahim the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sydenham schoolboy, Miguel Louw walked in the dock on Tuesday at the start of the trial and smiled and greeted the people in the court public gallery. He nodded his head and pleaded not guilty to all charges of murder, kidnapping and theft. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)

Maintenance man found guilty of schoolboy Miguel Louw’s murder after a 'mosaic’ of evidence

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Dec 8, 2020

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Durban - A Durban High Court judge yesterday rejected maintenance man Mohamed Ebrahim’s version that other potential suspects could have killed Durban schoolboy Miguel Louw and framed him by dumping the body near his home.

Judge Jacqueline Henriques, who yesterday found Ebrahim guilty of premeditated murder, kidnapping and theft, said she had come to her ruling after having considered a “mosaic” of evidence presented during the trial, including CCTV footage, entomological evidence, cellphone calls, WhatsApp messages and GPRS data as well as the evidence of police investigators, witnesses and a forensic expert. She delivered an executive summary of her 183-page judgment yesterday.

Ebrahim, who was known to the boy and his family, was arrested on July 20, 2018, and charged with Miguel’s kidnapping and murder. He was also charged with the theft of Miguel’s and his sister, Mikayla’s birth certificates and their mother Raylene’s identity document, which were found on him. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Ebrahim occasionally used to stay at the boy’s home where he performed maintenance work.

Miguel, 9, disappeared on the afternoon of July 17, 2018. He was last seen with Ebrahim on CCTV footage after leaving a KFC outlet near his home in Sydenham.

A search ensued for Miguel when Mikayla sounded the alarm that he had not returned home from school. His body was found two months later on September 3 in Phoenix, near Ebrahim’s home. According to the post-mortem the cause of death was “unascertained … due to decomposition and skeletonisation, but suffocation should be considered”.

Forensic pathologist Dr Salona Praladh testified that the time of his death was estimated to be more than four weeks before his body was discovered.

In summarising the evidence, Henriques said that prior to the incident, Raylene and Ebrahim had had an argument and she had “spurned his advances and as a consequence of which the State alleges the accused decided to kill Miguel to exact revenge on his mother”.

Henriques said the State established that WhatsApp conversations between Louw and Ebrahim were “indicative of a one-sided relationship”.

She said Ebrahim and Raylene had arguments before Miguel’s disappearance and on Sunday, July 15, she told him to finish the maintenance work and leave.

“The accused said to Raylene ‘I will show you’.”

Ebrahim had also asked Mikayla what time she and Miguel finished school before informing her that he would wait for them.

Henriques said that in WhatsApp exchanges on the day of Miguel’s disappearance when both Raylene and Mikayla questioned Ebrahim regarding Miguel’s whereabouts, he did not disclose that he had seen him.

Henriques said Raylene, Mike Louw, Miguel’s uncle and Kirk Louw, his father, had gone to Ebrahim’s house that evening and neither he nor Miguel were there between 7pm and 8pm. Ebrahim confirmed that he had taken a walk to a tuck shop.

Henriques said cellphone records had placed Ebrahim in the vicinity of his home and of the area where Miguel’s body was found on the afternoon and evening of July 17.

Ebrahim had in his defence alleged that there were other “potential suspects”.

His advocate, Jay Naidoo, had suggested that the post-mortem interval was placed at July 25 to 27, 2018, and August 27 to 30, 2018, which exonerated Ebrahim who was in custody at the time.

He submitted that one could not exclude the possibility that Miguel was killed by someone else and the body placed close to Ebrahim’s home to cast suspicion on him as it was public knowledge he was the last person to have seen the boy.

However, Henriques said she had “considered these hypotheses” and had “no hesitation in rejecting them”.

Henriques will deliver Ebrahim’s sentence on Wednesday.

Family and friends of slain Sydenham schoolboy Miguel Louw welcomed the guilty verdict handed down in the Durban High Court yesterday. From left are Miguel’s sister Mikayla Louw, Jonathan Ogle, Arlene Omardien, Trevor Paulsen and his mother Raylene Louw.

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