Lionel Simenya – a chef who moved to the capital from the central African country of Burundi in the hope of a better life – was sleeping in his car in Ford’s Way, adjoining Saughton Park and the Water of Leith, in the early hours of Thursday morning when he became involved in “an altercation”.
Officers were alerted at about 3.50am after Mr Simenya, 36, was found with serious injuries. Emergency services were called to the scene but he could not be saved.
Police are probing the theory he may have disturbed the joyriders as they attempted to steal a Peugeot later found abandoned on the same street.
In a statement, Mr Seminya’s devastated family spoke of their “profound shock”, saying that anyone involved “should search their conscience”.
Police described him as a highly respected, hard-working man who kept himself to himself. He was known to be a keen runner and had completed several 5k and 10k races.
In September, a photograph of him featured in an online gallery of employees given a “superstar award” by recruitment company Blue Arrow.
A recommendation beside it stated: “I would like to put forward our chef Lionel Simenya. Lionel is always picking up extra shifts and always gets great feedback from clients. He is always positive and happy to do any of the jobs put forward. A superstar in my eyes.”
In a statement issued through Police Scotland, the family of Mr Simenya said: “We are profoundly shocked and extremely saddened that our beloved Lionel has been taken from us in such a cruel manner.
“Lionel was a hard-working and dedicated chef who had won an award for his skills. We would ask anyone who can help police with their investigation to get in touch and provide any information that can bring those involved in his death to justice.
“Anyone who was involved should search their conscience and realise that our family have been left devastated by their actions. Hopefully then they will do the right thing.”
Detective Inspector Stuart Alexander, from the Major Investigation Team, said: “It is understood that Mr Simenya was within his vehicle in Fords Road and has become involved in an altercation.”
He asked for anyone who was in the area at the time or who may have dashcam footage to come forward.