Clothing vendor returns ‘stolen’ phone

UPDATE: Jila, the clothing store vendor, claims that he found the abandoned cellphone on a chair at the Wits Theatre. According to Jila, he held onto the phone for 2 hours waiting for the owner to return but then decided he was going to keep the phone. He erased all the data on the phone so he could keep it for himself.



IN SHOCK: Campbell Meas holding the phone that she almost lost.Photo: Percy Matshoba

A vintage clothing store vendor on Wits campus has defended his theft of a drama student’s cell phone last week, explaining that he “belongs to the marginalised class.”

Third-year Drama student Campbell Meas was having lunch with her friends at the Wits Theatre when Jila—who is well-known around campus for his vintage clothing—approached her table to sell his wares.

Meas was interested in the clothes but did not buy any at the time. She asked Jila, if he had a website or Facebook page where she could see more of his clothing.

Jila lamented to Meas about his “misfortune” because he did not have a smartphone to take online pictures of his clothing. He told Meas he wanted to sell his clothing on social media.

Jila then left the table. Meas and her friends finished lunch and she returned to class. However, she received a shock when she realised that her phone was missing. Meas tried calling the number but the call went straight to voicemail.

“That’s how I knew it was stolen,” she said.

Meas suspected Jila had stolen her phone. A mutual acquaintance confirmed they had seen Jila with a new phone that fit the description of Meas’ blue Samsung S4.

[pullquote]“I do not feel any remorse … she should be more careful” [/pullquote].

Through the mutual acquaintance Meas was able to phone Jila, who readily admitted that he had stolen her phone. After some negotiation, he agreed to return it.

Meas said Jila brought back the phone. However instead of apologising he “gave me a lecture” about being more careful.

When contacted by Wits Vuvuzela, Jila not only admitted to taking the phone but said it was “important” that his actions be reported on because they were an example of “social class issues”.

Jila defended the theft to Wits Vuvuzela and said it was not an act of “gangsterism”. He said that the incident highlighted the differences in social classes on campus since Jila “belongs to the marginalised class”.

Jila said he planned on selling the phone because he needed the money. He said his encounter with Meas showed how different social classes “prioritise”.

“I didn’t think about being a Good Samaritan when I took the phone,” he said. “I saw a solution to my problem.”

Jila told Wits Vuvuzela that he was not sorry for taking Meas phone.

“I do not feel any remorse … she should be more careful,” he said