Cell­phone clue to theft ‘given to owner’

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - KARINDA JAGMOHAN

A DUR­BAN woman is on the hunt for the only clue – a Sam­sung cell­phone – that she be­lieves rob­bers dropped in her car when they broke into it dur­ing her visit to the Dubai Souk Trade Fair.

While Fahima Is­mail was in­dulging in the of­fer­ings at the Kings Park Sta­dium-based fair, which had an eastern flavour, with her hus­band Sha­heed and daugh­ter Nee­lam on De­cem­ber 28, rob­bers stripped parts from her Toy­ota Corolla.

“My car was ran­sacked and the com­puter box and ig­ni­tion were taken, but as the car was be­ing read­ied for tow­ing, Nee­lam found an un­known cell­phone on the back seat.

“We sus­pected it be­longed to the rob­ber,” Is­mail claimed.

Is­mail sought the help of a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, Shane Ster­ling, who took the phone from her to ver­ify its own­er­ship.

“When I asked Shane to re­turn the phone so I could hand it to po­lice, he in­sisted on keep­ing it,” she said.

“I trusted him and let him keep the phone, but I have not been able to reach him since and his wife said he was not avail­able.”

SAPS spokesper­son, Cap­tain Them­beka Mb­hele, con­firmed a case of theft was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice, but could not pro­vide de­tails on the miss­ing cell­phone.

Ster­ling, how­ever, claimed the cell­phone be­longed to an in­no­cent man whose phone had gone miss­ing ear­lier.

Ster­ling said: “I took the cell­phone to see who it be­longed to. When I switched it on I was able to con­tact the owner as he sent a What­sApp mes­sage after see­ing his num­ber was be­ing used.”

Ster­ling, who has been in the se­cu­rity busi­ness for 16 years, said when he re­turned the phone to its ap­par­ent owner, a man from Cato Manor, he could see the man was “gen­uinely in­no­cent”.

“I was just the mid­dle­man and tried to help as best I could. I haven’t been able to re­turn her (Is­mail’s) calls be­cause I am con­stantly work­ing. And when I met the owner of the phone I could tell in my heart that he was a good guy,” he said.

Ster­ling said he had mis­placed the man’s de­tails as he was in the process of re­lo­cat­ing. He added it was com­mon for rob­bers to plant items be­long­ing to oth­ers in order to es­cape sus­pi­cion.

Is­mail was in­censed that Ster­ling­had re­leased pos­si­ble ev­i­dence.

“Re­gard­less of who the phone be­longed to, it was ev­i­dence that he tam­pered with. That phone was a key link to the rob­bers and it would have helped to en­sure jus­tice was done,” she claimed.

Is­mail be­lieves the fair or­gan­is­ers ought to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for her loss. How­ever, a dis­claimer in the park­ing area warns mo­torists they park at their own risk.

“I want to know what were the se­cu­rity of­fi­cials do­ing at the time of the rob­bery?” Is­mail asked.

The fair’s man­age­ment was asked for com­ment but had not sub­mit­ted a re­sponse at the time of go­ing to print.

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