HARARE – As controversy rages on about who the late robber and gang leader Boris Mushonga really was, the Daily News on Sunday crew went undercover in one of Harare’s oldest suburbs Mbare, which has produced both famous and infamous characters to search for the truth, at least according to those close to him, his friends and the community at large.
“For every five people I harm, I help 50,” was how the notorious 23-year-old Mbare robber used to say to his friends while partying from the spoils of yet another daring robbery in one of the affluent suburbs of Harare, said a very close friend of the late robber who declined to be named.
“Boris was a smart guy, there is no thief who was as smart as him,” shouted a young woman to a neighbour a few houses from the suspected young robber’s residence in Mbare National.
Daring stories about Boris, said to have started off as a petroleum jelly-maker before being lured to crime, are awash in Mbare after his tragic accident, in which four other suspected robbers died recently when their Toyota Raum was involved in a head-on collision with a bus near Zindoga Shopping Centre, in Waterfalls, Harare.
The paper’s investigations revealed who the infamous flamboyant “Robin Hood” of Mbare was, and to a lesser extent, in Mufakose, Highfield and Glen Norah high density suburbs.
Asked who Boris really was, a close friend said that he was domineering and even taught others to seek the help of prophets in order to succeed in their endeavours.
“We would together visit a certain Madzibaba Zakaria along Willowvale Road,” said one of his close friends.
“However, what would confuse us is his attachment to the Nyau dancers.
“Whenever he came across the dancers, he would dole out cash to each one of them. We suspected he was one of them, he really loved them.”
He said Boris was a teetotaler who only consumed drugs, especially marijuana, and Broncleer, (Bronco) — a cough syrup. He obsessively followed fashion trends, wearing the latest swag, although he hated T-shirts.
“Boris had only one wife and a daughter, though he was a womaniser. He was recruited by “Buju” into crime,” said another friend.
Buju is said to be presently languishing in remand prison, according to the young man.
Left by his mother who went to Britain while Boris was at a tender age, he grew up under the care of his grandmother, whom he stayed with together with his wife and child to the time of his death.
Boris was a school dropout who started eking a living in the informal sector, before being recruited to the underworld.
Known as “Vacho” in the underworld, his gang would hire kombis offering $150 for a day or payment in kind through “maWhatsApp” which are smartphones robbed from passengers.
“The gang would target upmarket areas and affluent suburbs, robbing of cash and phones from unsuspecting victims,” said another friend.
“Mbare is crying because Boris would cheaply supply these trendy gadgets, now that he is late, no-one will be able to do supply.”
Boris’ last supper was probably at a house which doubles up as a popular eatery near Mbare Musika, where a tearful middle-aged eatery owner, one of that last beneficiaries of Boris’ ill-gotten loot narrated events of his last visit there.
She said on the fateful day, she was tipped money worth six quarts of lager beer as a thank you for a meal well-served.
“He came with his gang to eat here and they were demanding that Boris share their $17 000 loot, but he told them not to hurry since they were on the run and needed to bribe the police who were hot on their trail,” said the woman to customers, as debate raged about Boris during lunch hour at her house.
“I was saddened by the way he later died. What happened to him at his funeral wake showed the troubled life he led.
“I was the first one to shout that he was falling down and people wondered how a dead man can fall down, until they saw his coffin falling down from the roof of a black (Toyota) Noah vehicle speeding away from the police.”
This was after Braeside police officers had fired shots at the funeral wake, at least according to the woman.
Boris’ gang are said to have paraded the coffin across the length and breadth of Mbare, including at the accident scene.
They even had the cheek to visit Stoddard Police Station taunting the police to arrest Boris who was now resting in a coffin, since he was on the police “wanted list.”
This, according to the woman, is said to have riled the police officers at the station, who raised Braeside Police, fearing chaos and anarchy in Mbare as things had gone out of hand.
That the late young Boris’ life would have been well spent had it not been for the harsh environment he grew up in and also without parental guidance, was a popular view shared by Mbare residents.