Remembering murdered Miguel Louw ...five years on

Raylene Louw holds a photo of her son, Miguel Louw. File Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Raylene Louw holds a photo of her son, Miguel Louw. File Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 6, 2023


It's been five years since Miguel Louw was kidnapped and his body found in a shallow grave just metres away from his killer's home.

Miguel was kidnapped while on his way home from school on July 17, 2018.

At the time, it was reported that Miguel was last seen in the company of Mohammed Vahed Ebrahim, a man who often spent time at the family home, doing odd jobs.

Mohamed Vahed Ebrahim was in the dock facing kidnapping charges, when he was arrested for the murder of Miguel. File Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

The nine-year-old's abduction led to a massive search by private security companies, including Combined Community Watch (CCW).

Miguel Louw's aunt, Tasmin dos Santos, is comforted at the scene where the body of Miguel was found. File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Recalling the events of July 17, 2018, CCW's Domenic King said Miguel's aunt Tasneem reached out to him at around 8pm.

"We stopped by her mom's place the next morning, and after speaking to the family, we searched Ebrahim's workplace and interviewed his colleagues. We were astounded by what they told us, but I won't go into detail. We realised that he had not collected his salary, so we arranged a sting operation, and he was apprehended," he said.

King said, together with Sydenham police officers, they were sent on a wild goose chase and followed up on every lead.

"We drove all over, from Durban to Port Shepstone and Stanger," he told IOL.

King, who has extensive experience in the security field, said he was shattered when Miguel's body was found.

"I expected to find him alive. We made the mistake of getting too involved, and we took Miguel as our own child. I cannot put into words what went through our minds," he expressed.

King credited Sydenham police management for setting up a 'war room' and allowing CCW to be a part of the search team.

King said he still thinks of Miguel often.

"I patrol pass the Garden of Remembrance every night, that's little Miguel's final resting place. I always think of him. Only at night, though ... For some strange reason, that's when it's all quiet and he crosses my mind," King shared.

Ebrahim was arrested following Miguel's disappearance on charges of kidnapping and theft, as well as for stealing an identity document and two birth certificates. While he was in the dock on those charges, he was approached by Warrant Officer Rajan Govender and was arrested for Miguel's murder.

Miguel's body was discovered buried in a shallow grave in Longbury Drive in Phoenix in September 2018.

According to the judgment handed down by Judge Jacqueline Henriques, a juice bottle, school books, and a school bag were found near the badly decomposed body. The body was clothed in remnants of a school uniform, tracksuit jacket, and jersey with the emblem of Rippon Road Primary School embossed on them. The area where the body was found was in close proximity, a mere 300 metres from the home of the accused.

DNA tests had to be conducted to confirm that the decomposed remains belonged to the youngster. His funeral was held at St Anne's Church in Randles Road days later.

Supporters of Miguel Louw hold up signs in this file picture: Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

In her judgment, Henriques said the exact cause and date of death could not be determined, given the state of decomposition of the body, although the autopsy performed by Dr Salona Prahladh, indicated that suffocation could not be ruled out.

Ebrahim maintained his innocence throughout his trial and was eventually sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in May 2021.

Kirk Louw, Miguel's father, died in 2019. A relative said he suffered a heart attack. He died 15 days before Miguel's one year memorial.

Ebrahim's father, Ebrahim Shah, also died in 2019.