FOR ignoring parental advice not to associate with “wicked” friend Florence, Shyleen Mkoma, 15, died in the company of hard-core criminals that included the “infamous” Mbare robber Boris Mushonga.
Mushonga, who died in the tragic road accident which claimed the lives of three other robbers, was notorious for purse-snatching.
While Shyleen’s peers were busy preparing or writing end-of-year exams at secondary school, she spent time in the company of notorious robbers, among them drug addicts and flesh peddlers; thanks to poverty and a lack of income to fund her education.
Only a year ago, Shyleen hid from her grandmother’s sight, and ignored her aunt’s advice not to be buddies with Florence, who introduced her to dangerous territories. In the end, she died in undesirable company.
At death’s hands on the fateful day was Bruce, who she was planning to marry. She was reportedly two months pregnant.
However, her family utterly disputed allegations that “Tutu”, as they affectionately called her because of her small stature, was a robber.
“Even up till now I can’t come to terms that our little Tutu is gone, she always used to promise that she will make me proud, she was ambitious,” said her grandmother Genia Mkoma.
“She was a happy person, smart and innovative with clothes because she didn’t have much, she was a hard worker. She kept her clothes in a small bag that I gave her, and this is the key to that bag,” she sobbed.
“She came to me and told me she was pregnant and that her boyfriend Bruce said he wanted to marry her, I even sat outside there with the two of them and gave them advice,” Tutu’s grandmother said.
Tutu, an orphan, could not carry on with her education after grade seven as she was left in the care of her grandmother together with three siblings.
Her grandmother said she was a well-behaved girl and her world crushed when she learnt her “little Tutu” had gone under such tragic conditions.
“I waited for her and even went outside the gate to see if she was coming, that was around 10pm and I saw three men walking down the road towards me and I quickly ran back to the door and they followed me,” she recalled.
“I called out to them asking what they wanted; they told me not to be afraid and asked about Tutu’s whereabouts and told me she might have been involved in an accident with the car that had picked her up in the morning.
“I just fainted; it was hard for me to take in. Other versions were saying she was the one driving, but our little Tutu could not drive.
“We all could not believe and waited to verify with the police the next day and also tried to think of other places she could have gone to. It was rare for Tutu to be away from home after six and we were worried.
“I could not contain it when it was confirmed to us that Tutu had left us, she was young and quiet, never used to cause problems”, Tutu’s grandmother said, tears flowing down her cheeks.
The family blames Florence; Tutu’s older friend, for the loss of their daughter.
“Before she left to go wherever she went with that car, I warned her not to associate with Florence because she is a bad friend, she has nothing to offer, she ran away without our approval and I put the blame squarely on Florence,” Shamaine Mkoma, a relative said.
“Our Tutu was beautiful, Florence used her to get favours from those boys, maybe for drugs and money, but I never wanted to see her, she is evil and God will judge her accordingly,” Mkoma said.
“She came during the funeral and I chased her away but came back, saying she did not care.”
Although her friends interviewed by the Weekend Post suggested that Tutu had developed into a drug addict, her family believe Florence abused the beauty possessed by Tutu to get food and clothes from robbers and probably engage in useless relationships for her own benefit.
The Weekend Post traced down Florence and found her at a house, seemingly intoxicated and sitting with four other boys.
She confirmed that Tutu was her best friend but refused to comment on the kind of life Tutu used to lead. But a visibly intoxicated 24-year-old Pretty Maunze, told the Weekend Post information that Tutu’s family did not know.
“Of course the family did not like Florence because they believed she was a bad influence, but as they say birds of the same feather flock together, you cannot continue hanging out with someone whose deeds you don’t agree with,” Maunze said.
“I actually believe that Tutu was also dating Boris from Mbare, and she used to take “Bronco” (cough syrup used a drug) plus she was part of the Mbare crew.
“Look at us, we do not have jobs, people end up being pushed to doing things that will make them earn a living, and this is anything including robbery ,” Maunze said.—Bridget Mananavire and Xolisani Ncube STAFF WRITERS