A 19-year-old man who is serving a six months jail term at Bulawayo Prison on charges of theft in motor vehicle (TFC) has blamed his mother’s early divorce and death for pushing him into crime.
Mandlenkosi Mkunga (19) told B-Metro that he was introduced to crime by his friends at the age of 14 as he wanted to move out from his stepfather’s house.
This decision came after he discovered that he had been raised by a stepfather, who was also a workmate to his biological father.
“When I look at the way my mother conducted her personal issues before I was even born, I discovered that she divorced my father for another man who happened to be my biological father’s workmate in the military.
“When her second relationship was officialised into a marriage she decided to move in with me. So I was raised under the guidance of a stepfather, who really tried to act like my biological father,”he said.
Mkunga said while living with his parents, his world crumbled when he was only 20 months as his mother died leaving him under the care of his stepfather.
“To be honest with you my brother, I can safely tell you that I don’t even know my mother considering that she passed on when I was only one year eight months old. When she passed on she left me in the custody of my stepfather who later raised me with the assistance of my mother’s sisters.
“The issue of being raised by more than two different people who stay in different environments really affected me a lot as I was doing my primary education at Mpumelelo Primary School in Mpopoma.
“While doing my primary education I met friends whom I shared a lot of information about my personal life with,” he said.
From these discussions, Mkunga was urged by his peers to venture into drugs as his situation was more stressful because he was being taken care of by a stepfather while his biological father was alive.
“I remember that I started taking drugs when I was in Grade Four and I started these drugs because of the influence that I was getting from friends that I had met at Mpumelelo Primary School.
“The pupils that I was playing with during that time were older than me and most of them were already doing Grade Seven so most of the issues that we discussed were not of my league,” he said.
The inmate said while playing with those guys, he was introduced to a number of drugs and that included dagga and a pill that was used to treat people with mental problems during that time.
Under the influence of drugs, they committed crimes in their community.
“I have been reflecting on my life while in prison and I discovered that I was so unfortunate that I befriended people who were into drugs. In the process these guys introduced me to crime as we started robbing school kids and some members of the community.
“We robbed members of the community as this was our source of income. We used the money to buy drugs that we required as we were not always living under the influence of drugs,”he said.
The inmate said soon after completing his primary education he proceeded to do his secondary education at Mpopoma High School and he was made to join a gang called Is’chithagazi 28. The group terrorised teachers, students and members of the community.
“When I completed my primary education, I decided to proceed with my secondary education at Mpopoma High School. While doing my secondary education I met the guys that I had been playing with while at primary school.
“These guys made me join their new group called Is’chithagazi 28 and while under this group, I was made to carry bricks in a satchel and an okapi knife in my stockings,”he said.
Under the group, he was trained in different stealing tactics ranging from card cloning, cyber theft, robberies and breaking into cars such that he ended up dropping out of school, when he was only 14 years old.
“Whilst at secondary level we used to terrorise students and teachers during sports days such that school authorities would end up calling police officers to restore order.
The inmate said when he dropped out of school, he decided to venture into breaking into motor vehicles as it had minimal risk compared to cyber crimes that have long jail terms.
“When I dropped out of school I decided to work with other guys who were in the TFC department and they taught the skill that I required to survive in the sector. I managed to buy my own property from crime and police officers later managed to track my movements leading to my arrest.
“I have been in prison for five months and from my sentence, I have realised that it’s high time I leave crime and pursue a course in Information and Technology.
“I have a serious passion for information and technology and I think it’s high time I improve myself because crime does not pay and one can lose his life from mob justice,”he said.
The inmate said theft was not a job with a guarantee as some of the property that he acquired using stolen money was recovered by the police. Some of this property includes a Lexus, Altezza and two BMW Series 1.
“My only advice to those who are thieves is to stop that game as it does not have a guarantee as you can lose that property at any time. I am a living testimony of such.
“Instead let’s look for better projects to do in our communities to create employment for others to benefit,” he said.