Johannesburg - It began as a cellphone theft at an intersection – and it ended in the murder of 23-year-old Thabit Samodien.
On Wednesday evening, Samodien was stabbed and beaten to death with rocks after he chased a man who had stolen his cellphone at the Gordon Road off-ramp in Roodepoort.
His wife of just three months watched as two men, believed to be accomplices of the robber, followed him into the dark. When he didn’t return, she went looking for help.
The incident, according to family and police, happened at about 8pm. Samodien and his wife Shakirah were on the way to visit her mother. They stopped at the Gordon Road off-ramp.
“He was on the phone, and the window was open when the robber grabbed his phone,” said Samodien’s uncle, Reeza Hartley.
After Samodien failed to return to the car, Shakirah drove to her family house, and the police were alerted.
Officers from the Florida police station arrived on the scene and found Samodien’s body on Gordon Road, about 200 to 300m from where the phone grab happened.
Hartley said Samodien was lying face down in a ditch, with a wound to the back of his head. He was half-naked as his jeans and underwear, according to police, had been removed and placed nearby.
“Next to the body was a heap of stones, said police spokeswoman Captain Lydia Mtila-Dikolomela. “It appeared he was stoned to death.”
Hartley said there were also stab wounds to the back of Samodien’s head. He was declared dead at the scene.
Mtila-Dikolomela said a cellphone, believed to have belonged to one of the suspects, was found close to the body.
The police had yet to make any arrests.
About an hour-and-a-half before Samodien was murdered, a motorist using the same intersection claimed that two men had tried to attack her. She was at the intersection when a well-dressed man pretending to use his cellphone suddenly rushed towards her car.
The woman said she jumped a red traffic light to get away. She said she phoned 10111 to report the incident and was told that a patrol car would be sent to the spot.
“My heart sank when I heard this morning that just an hour-and-a-half later, someone was killed at that spot,” said the motorist, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said they would be able to check on Friday whether a patrol vehicle responded to that call.
On Thursday, friends, relatives and work colleagues gathered in Bosmont to bury Samodien. They spoke of a man who was a gym fanatic, who watched his diet and doted over his young wife.
“His nickname was ‘My new wife’ because it always use to be me and my new wife,” said work colleague Mpho Nhlapo.
Samodien was also a kickboxer and decided to give this up to spend more time playing rugby.
Others remembered their last moments with him.
“When I saw him last, he said goodbye and gave his granny a big hug. He didn’t normally do that,” said Hartley.