TWO EXTREMES: Luis Momadi(cor) (left), the leader of a robbery syndicate that targeted Camps Bay, covers his face and frowns after hearing he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Next to him his brother-in-law, Thamsanqa Mafuyo(cor), expresses relief after hearing his sentence was suspended and he would be released from custody after three years in jail. Photo by Michael Walker
TWO EXTREMES: Luis Momadi(cor) (left), the leader of a robbery syndicate that targeted Camps Bay, covers his face and frowns after hearing he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Next to him his brother-in-law, Thamsanqa Mafuyo(cor), expresses relief after hearing his sentence was suspended and he would be released from custody after three years in jail. Photo by Michael Walker

The quiet man who led a life of crime

By Caryn Dolley Time of article published Dec 12, 2011

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 To family members, Luis Momadi was a hard-working husband who always made time for his three children.

But at night, when they believed he was socialising with friends, he was breaking into Camps Bay homes, attacking and robbing residents.

Momadi’s family said they did not realise the man they viewed as a loving, quiet father, was the leader of a gang of robbers behind at least 39 crimes in the upmarket suburb.

“When the police came to our house and told us what he’d been doing we were so shocked. It’s broken our family,” said Lusaka Mafuya, Momadi’s mother-in-law.

Three days ago, Momadi, 29, convicted of rape, robbery, housebreaking, racketeering and money laundering, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Western Cape High Court. His brother-in-law and Mafuya’s son, Thamsanqa Mafuya, 25, convicted of possession of suspected stolen property, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for five years.

The three others involved in the gang, Arnaldo Faife, 26, Rogerio Laice, 26, and Sabastine Okele, 40, were each sentenced to an effective 17 years imprisonment. The five members of the “Momadi gang” had been in prison for about three years before hearing their fate on Friday.

During proceedings the courtroom was divided, with relatives of the five accused filling the public gallery balcony and Camps Bay residents affected by the gang sitting on benches facing the dock.

Moments after hearing their sentences, Momadi covered his face, bowed his head and leaned heavily on the dock; Thamsanqa smiled broadly.

A while later, Momadi was transported from the court in the back of a police van.

Peering from behind bars in the van, he said: “I’m fine. I’m feeling okay.” Asked if he had anything to say to his victims, he replied: “Just have a nice day while you’re out there.”

A few metres from the van, a bakkie with relatives inside was waiting for Thamsanqa.

When he emerged from the court building, after three years in custody, he hugged his mother, covered his face and muttered: “I feel good.”

 Earlier, while waiting for Thamsanqa to be released, his parents stood about anxiously and discussed the sentences.

“This is so good for my son. But this is so bad for Momadi. His three children, aged two, six and eight, live with us. Now we must go tell them their dad isn’t coming home. Momadi’s married to my daughter and this will break her heart again,” Mafuya said.

She said Momadi arrived in Cape Town from Mozambique about a decade ago.

When he married her daughter he moved into their home in Khayelitsha. “He was a quiet man and a very good father. He stayed in a back room and we never went in there. He’d go out and come back long afterwards, but we thought he’d been with his friends.”

Thamsanqa had spent a lot of time with Momadi, but had not often gone out with him. “When the police came and told us about Momadi we couldn’t believe it. Then Thamsanqa was also arrested. It was hard.

“When we were told Momadi had raped a woman, my daughter started screaming and said she doesn’t want him in her life. She softened a little though and does phone him in jail,” Mafuya said.

Goodman Mafuya, Thamsanqa’s father, said Momadi’s parents were in Mozambique and he had a brother in Cape Town: “But they never came to court. They want nothing to do with him,” he said.

Goodman Mafuya said he planned to leave Cape Town with Thamsanqa to get him away from bad influences. Asked what he felt about Momadi’s victims, he said: “I will pray for Momadi and I will pray for them.”

After hearing the sentences on Friday, Wolfgang Westendorf, whose friend was raped by Momadi when the gang broke into his home about three years ago, said it brought him no joy.

“But hopefully closure will come out of this,” he said.

Camps Bay resident Bernard Schafer said hearing the sentences had been rewarding as he and many residents had put in more than a thousand hours of work over three years to help police track the gang.

He had personally helped police in profiling the suspects, gathering evidence and information at every crime scene and tracing witnesses, some of whom had moved to Germany.

Ian Merrington, chairman of the Camps Bay Watch, set up a few years ago as a direct result of the Momadi gang’s crimes, said the sentencing was a result of a community effort.

“We feel not only that justice has been done but that we have also proved the power of a community,” he said. - Cape Times

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