Samaritan chases, catches city thief

2008-01-15 00:00

DESPITE attempts to make a deal with another “black folk” to let him go, a thief was arrested on Saturday after he was caught by a member of the public who risked his life to recover a stranger’s cellphone.

In the process of apprehending the suspect, the good Samaritan, who declined to give his name for publication, lost his wallet, which contained his credit cards, ID book, driver’s licence and cash.

According to the hero, he was coming out from a lane that leads to Shepstone House to join Timber Street in the city centre when he noticed a fleeing man who knocked an elderly man out of his way as he ran.

“While I was still bamboozled by that, a young Indian woman came along, screaming and saying she had been robbed. She pointed to [the man] and I went after him. He ran away and I pursued him. The thief ran towards Church Street, but then changed direction to a small lane near Theatre Lane. I got closer and I caught him,” said the hero.

The suspect attempted to first bully him before trying to talk him into a deal. “He said I couldn’t do that to another ‘black folk’. He said he was hungry and was trying to make a living. But I wouldn’t hear of it and I grabbed him by his waist belt and dragged him. He gave me the cellphone, a Nokia N70,” he said.

Asked why he chased the suspect while everyone looked on, he said it was because he hates crime. “I hate crime; I cannot stand it and I was just doing my bit to prevent a crime in progress,” said the businessman from Greytown.

While he was chasing the suspect, he did not consider the fact that the thief may be armed. He wanted to help “the poor woman get her cellphone back” he said.

The hero said someone found his wallet, but the cash, ID book, cards and driver’s licence had been removed. He appealed to anyone who found them to bring them to a police station.

With the help of other people, the suspect was taken to Loop Street Police Station, where he was arrested and charged.

The victim, Teri Ramphal (18), said she had been walking to the shops when someone bumped her and punched her in the face.

“People all around just watched. He pulled my bag and went for my pants pockets where he found the cellphone and ran off. I think there were two of them, but I chased the one who had my phone.

I screamed and went around the lane chasing him and that is where I met my helper,” she said, adding that she was very grateful for people like him, thanking him.

nathi@witness.co.za

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