Miguel Louw’s killer to be sentenced in May as State calls for life sentence
Durban - Mohammed Vahed Ebrahim, who kidnapped and murdered 9-year-old Miguel Louw will know his fate next month.
The 46-year-old will be sentenced in the Durban High Court on May 5.
He was found guilty of premeditated murder, kidnapping and theft in December.
Sentence proceedings began in the Durban High Court this week, with probation officer saying that Ebrahim should receive a term of direct imprisonment.
During pre-sentence arguments this week Senior State Advocate Kelvin Singh described Ebrahim as “cold, calculating and vicious” in his submissions made to court.
It emerged that he took the child after Miguel’s mother, Raylene Louw, rejected his romantic advances. Miguel, a pupil at Rippon Road Primary School in Sydenham, was last seen alive while in the company of Ebrahim in July 2018. Camera footage showed Ebrahim with Miguel at KFC and later approaching a taxi.
Miguel’s decomposing body was found two months later in a bush on Longberry Drive, in Phoenix, near the accused’s home.
In aggravation of sentence, Singh called for life imprisonment and said Ebrahim, 46, betrayed the trust of Louw’s family and destroyed them. He said the accused had a twisted mindset and was cunning.
“There are no substantial and compelling circumstances to suggest anything other than life imprisonment.”
Singh called the matter a crime of passion, in that the accused was aggrieved that his advances were rejected by Louw. He said Ebrahim showed no signs of remorse.
“To put it bluntly, what is concerning is that he laughed most at the social worker interview. His conduct demonstrated that he refuses any responsibility and has a lack of empathy.”
Singh said Ebrahim must be removed from society as there was no possibility he could be rehabilitated.
In mitigation of sentence, advocate Jay Naidoo, defence counsel for the accused, said there was no evidence to conclude that Ebrahim was cold and calculated.
“No inference can be drawn to suggest that. His conduct was out of character and he is capable of rehabilitation. There is no compelling reason to permanently remove him from society.”
Judge Jacqueline Henriques questioned the defence on the subject of remorse, referring to the probation officer’s report, which found that Ebrahim had failed to take accountability for what transpired.
“If you look at the nature of the relationship between the accused and the deceased, at the very least, show a sense of loss for the child. There should be some sort of acknowledgement but there’s nothing that says that. He is entitled to maintain his innocence but surely express some sense of remorse. Surely there should be a sense of loss on his part,” said Judge Henriques.
Naidoo said Ebrahim found it difficult to show remorse when he believed he was not guilty of the crimes levelled against him.
“One has to look at the continued incarceration with him knowing that he is innocent.”
Naidoo asked the court to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment. He said there was no direct evidence linking Ebrahim to the crime.
“Given the circumstances in the events itself, one must accept there is no direct evidence and he is being convicted on a body of circumstantial evidence.”
He raised the argument that the court was not clear on how Miguel died. The post-mortem indicated that strangulation should not be ruled out as the cause of death.
“In terms of the actual taking of his life, there is no tangible or concrete evidence to show the cause of death.”
Naidoo also argued that Ebrahim was a first offender and had no history of violence. He said Ebrahim was well-liked and painted a picture of exemplary relationships with his siblings and parents.
In the probation officer's report submitted to the court, it was found that Ebrahim laughed most of the time during the assessment, accused others and shifted the blame from himself. He did not have a history of mental illness.
According to the victim impact statement, Louw was still mourning the loss of her son.
“Every morning, when she wakes up … her heart feels heavy. Tears burn in her eyes and she has to reconcile herself to the fact that she needs to face another day without her son,” said Thobile Sikhakhane, the social worker and probation officer.
Miguel was described by his aunt as a bubbly and loving child who always had a smile on his face.
The family also claimed Miguel’s father died of a heart attack and that his health deteriorated due to the court case and the death of his child.