The murder of Hangberg resident Junaid Phillips last weekend could have been retaliation for an incident on New Year’s Day in which the popular 24-year-old came to the aid of his sister’s boyfriend.
Hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to Mr Phillips outside the family home on Sunday January 8, a day after he was stabbed in the chest outside a convenience store in Salamander Street – only metres from his father Wayne’s house.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested for the murder, and appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday January 9.
Speaking to the Sentinel this week, devastated family members offered their version of the events leading up to Mr Phillips’ death on Saturday night, telling how “groups” of people associated with the teenager had been walking past their home throughout that day.
“This actually started a month ago,” cousin Fazlin King said in the company of her family.
“Junaid’s sister Rafeeqah and her boyfriend Jeno (Lakay) had been walking in our street when someone shot a flare at them,” she said.
“On New Year, Jeno went to a party and had dropped off Rafeeqah and was driving home. He was driving through the Texas area when he was ambushed by a group of about 10 people, both guys and girls. They got him out the car, and he was stabbed with a bottle neck. They also smashed up his car.”
According to Ms King, Mr Phillips was told of the attack and ran down to Texas.
“Junaid was trying to get answers from these people. He wasn’t friends with them.
“He knew who they were, but he didn’t associate with them. But everyone knew that Junaid was the kind of person who would always defend his family.”
Mr Phillips’ intervention managed to drive the assailants away, but not before they allegedly told him they would be coming for him later.
On Saturday January 7, Mr Phillips had spent the day at his father Wayne’s house.
“Just after 5pm, I asked him to go to the shop to buy something for me. Not long afterwards, someone came to my house to say something had happened to Junaid. I ran over and saw that he had been stabbed,” he said.
Wayne and several other community members saw the youngster who allegedly stabbed Mr Phillips, and chased him to what was believed was the boy’s parents’ house.
“I kicked the door down, telling them that they must give him to me. But he had already gone.”
He said the boy later turned himself over to Hout Bay police.
“He actually laid a complaint against Junaid, saying the incident was self-defence. That was when he was taken into custody.”
Ms King said since none of the family were actually there when the stabbing took place, they were mostly relying on information provided by the community.
“What we did notice on Saturday were these groups of people walking up and down the street outside our house, which hadn’t happened before.
“We knew these were the same people who had attacked Jeno, but Junaid told us not to worry about them. He actually told us, ‘Whatever happens, happens’,” she said.
Mr Phillips’s was laid to rest according to Muslim rites the following day, with hundreds of mourners gathering to pay their respects.
However, according to Ms King, the solemn occasion also saw between 15 and 20 people, allegedly the accused’s acquaintances, driving around and blasting loud music as the procession continued.
“They were jealous of him, and hated that he was so popular. They loved to hate him,” she said.
According to all his relatives, Mr Phillips was a loving family man with a passion for basketball and art. He also regularly assisted his father in his panel-beating business.
“We’ve lost a part of us. Junaid was the kind of person who would rather spend time with his family than go out with his friends at night. It will never be the same again,” Ms King said.
“We are absolutely heartbroken about this. I want the person who did this to rot in jail, but that will not bring Junaid back to us.
“What I really want to do is ask him if he is happy that he did this, and does this thing he did make him feel like an ou (big man). He gets to take a life, but who gets to decide his fate?”
Silent for most of the interview, Mr Phillips’ inconsolable sister Rafeeqah finally said she felt she could not rest until someone was given life imprisonment for her brother’s tragic death.
The family wanted to express their thanks and appreciation to everyone who had supported them and contributed towards the funeral, and asked that they continued to keep them in prayer.
Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch confirmed a teenager under the age of 18 had been arrested for the murder, and police were following all leads in their investigation.