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Durban - A Durban business student is being hailed as a hero after he abandoned his car at the side of a road in Westville to chase a thief he had just seen commit a smash-and-grab from another motorist’s car.
Although the thief got away, the victim, Kate Fellows-Smith, 23, a teaching student, said Muhammed Chohan’s selfless act meant a family heirloom, a ring, had been recovered.
Fellows-Smith, of Pinetown, was driving towards The Pavilion on Wednesday afternoon when she heard a loud bang on her passenger side window while waiting at a red robot.
“I was about to put the car in first gear when the guy just leaned through the window and slapped me. He grabbed my bag and fled. It happened so quickly, I thought he was going to hijack me,” she said on Wednesday.
Chohan, 20, from Sherwood, who was also waiting at the robot, saw everything. Adrenalin kicked in and he pulled over, leapt out of his car and chased the man.
Chohan said his height gave him an advantage as the suspect was short.
He pursued him through the traffic but, as he was about to grab him, took a tumble.
Chohan hurt his knee and his hand but continued the chase towards Chesterville.
He said the thief dropped some of Fellows-Smith’s belongings in the road and disappeared into the township.
By then the Westville police had joined the chase, but the thief had disappeared.
A make-up bag, credit cards, family photos and the precious gold ring, passed down to Fellows-Smith from her great-grandmother, were recovered.
Chohan said on Wednesday: “I really wanted to catch him. If only I did not get hurt. I did consider that he might have been armed but when I noticed a young lady in need I had no choice but to help. What if she were my sister?
“I would want someone to help my sister as well. I am a man and I had to help.”
Unfortunately, he said, he had not managed to retrieve her driver’s licence.
Fellows-Smith said her hero had also phoned to ask if she was alright.
“He didn’t even tell me that he was hurt, I only found out from the police and phoned him back to see if he was fine.”
Westville police spokesman Stephen Clark confirmed the incident and praised Chohan’s bravery.
“This was an awesome display by a member of the community refusing to allow crime to prevail in front of him, and the fast response by the Westville police ensured success and relief for our victim.”