Wits university students lament the accessibility of campus facilities by non-Wits members
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.
ORIGINAL STORY, 25.03.14:
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
An unknown male who took a students’ phone last Friday was captured on CCTV footage.
During the first week of the second semester, when many students are changing and adding subjects, 3rd year BA student Lebo Mphela, was filling in amendment forms at the faculty of humanities table. When she left after completing the forms, she forgot her phone.
A 3rd year BA (psychology) student who did not want to be named saw the phone and asked a male student approaching the table if the phone was his. He said it was not but promised to leave it at reception.
After realising she had left her Nokia 5800 phone on the table, Mphela rushed back to the faculty. The psychology student told her to ask the faculty staff for her phone as she told the man to leave it there.
Mphela was told no one had left the phone there and was advised to go and view the camera footage at the investigation office in Room 24 of Senate House.
Mphela called her number but her phone was switched off. “What kind of person leaves with someone‘s phone, I didn’t expect this kind of behaviour from Witsies, I am stressed,” she said.
The CCTV camera traced the person who took the phone but his identity has not been revealed. The investigation office will use the snap taken from the camera to find him.
“Whether or not the phone is recovered, I just hope this guy is found. It will help with awareness, people will see the risks of stealing things,” Mphela said.
Some students who have lost phones do, however, get them back. Mmathapelo Khutoane, a 3rd year BA student, said she once forgot her phone at Umthombo Building. When she called her number, a female student answered and gave her phone back.