Standing outside her roast meat stall one Saturday morning in May, Madam Elita Sukirman was startled by the sound of a commotion behind the coffee shop.
When the Indonesian Chinese woman heard shouts that a man had slashed another with a chopper, her confusion turned to fear. No other stall in the coffee shop uses a chopper.
Could the weapon have been the same chopper she used to cut up her roast meat?
It was, she discovered when she looked around and realised her chopper was missing. It prompted her to change the way she now handles her knives.
On May 31, cleaner Wong Keng Foong, 59, entered Madam Elita's stall at Sin Kee Heong Coffee Shop at Commonwealth Drive and took her chopper. She was standing outside her stall and did not notice Wong walking in.
Wong, who claimed in court yesterday that he has schizophrenia, walked over to cabby Low Chin Lye, 61, and, without warning, slashed him several times. Mr Low, who was waiting for his wife to have breakfast that morning, used to be neighbours with Wong.
Horrified customers managed to separate both men, but not before Mr Low was slashed on his neck, shoulder and hands. He had to be hospitalised for a week and was given medical leave for three months.
Yesterday, Wong was jailed four years after pleading guilty to voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Low.
Recounting the incident to The New Paper at her stall yesterday, Madam Elita said Wong must have taken her chopper when she was not paying attention.
And because the other stalls were a drink stall and an economy rice stall, she had a bad feeling when she heard the shouts for help.
The 45-year-old said: "When I turned around, I saw that the chopper beside my chopping board was gone. "I could also hear from the shouts that a man was badly injured and there was a lot of blood."
Madam Elita said she did not dare venture out to take a look. She whipped out her mobile phone to call the police.
Now, Madam Elita is always at her stall to prevent strangers from entering.
"If I hear shouting nearby or if I have to leave my stall for a long period of time, I will keep my chopper inside the drawer," she added.
She said her business suffered for two months after people heard about the incident.