No joy, just grief

Outside Shameera Basha’s flat on Friday.

At 9am on Friday, Shameera Basha would have been in a celebratory mood.

She would have finished the final paper for her O levels after months of hard work preparing for the examination.

In August, the 16-year-old student from Tanjong Katong Girls' School had tweeted: "Just can't wait for Os to end, I want to watch good movies all day and snuggle in bed."

Tragically, her seat was empty in the examination venue at her school Friday. The Secondary 4 student never got to sit her final paper, biology, which started at 8am and ended at 9am.

On Thursday, she was found with two fatal stab wounds in a bedroom at home, an executive flat in Tampines.

The family's Indonesian domestic helper, Tuti Aeliyah, 28, who was also in the room, was arrested.

Tuti was charged with murder on Friday. It is understood that the charge was read to her in a hospital in the presence of a field magistrate.

BRIGHT FUTURE

From all indications, Shameera had a bright future ahead of her. But all her grieving parents can do now is ponder on what could have been.

Neighbours and friends have described Shameera as an intelligent and nice girl.

She was a high achiever who represented her school in competitions such as the Singapore Mathematical Olympiad this year.

When she was in Secondary 2, she won a Bronze award in the Royal Commonwealth Society Competition, an international essay competition for youth.

Her school friends said she was "nice, friendly and very sweet" and also had a heart for the less fortunate.

Shameera, a member of her school's Interact Club, took part in a volunteer trip to Batam, Indonesia, in March. They visited an orphanage and conducted English and hygiene classes.

It was an experience that touched her and prompted her to tweet: "This trip was so enriching and amazing. Learnt so much within these few days. The kids are such amazing people."

When The New Paper went to her school at Dunman Lane Friday, grim-faced students were being escorted by teachers to the bus stop.

One of them said she knew Shameera, but declined to say more.

The vice-principal, Madam Lee Beng Choo, told TNP that the school was providing support to Shameera's family.

"The school is handling this matter to the best of its abilities," she added.

At the Basha residence, the mood was sombre as almost 100 visitors streamed in throughout the day to offer their condolences to the mourning family.

TEARY EYED

Most of the women wore dark colours and headscarves. They were seen sniffling and dabbing away their tears as they left the flat. Most of the men wore the traditional Malay baju kurung and songkok.

Most of them avoided eye contact with reporters waiting outside. When approached, they smiled and said they could not comment.

Shameera's father left for Friday prayers at a mosque at 12.30pm, accompanied by some family members.

When the front door of the flat was opened to allow visitors to enter, the sound of prayers could be heard coming from inside.

In the evening, the scent of incense usually lit at Muslim funerals wafted from the flat.

Five of Shameera's friends, still in their green TKGS uniforms, also paid their respects to her family. They were teary-eyed and declined to speak to reporters.

Many of those who knew Shameera were still coming to terms with the shock of her sudden death.

One of her cousins tweeted: "She was my cousin, my sister, my best friend, my everything, but now she is gone. I know she is in a better place now and watching me."

Online speculation spark spirited defence

Some netizens have speculated on the circumstances leading to the murder of 16-year-old student Shameera Basha.

Some online comments raised the question of whether the family's domestic helper, Tuti Aeliyah, 28, had been mistreated by her employers.

Tuti was charged with murder on Friday.

Those close to the family have come out to defend them, describing them as nice and kind.

A cousin who was close to Shameera tweeted: "For the last time, her family did not treat the maid badly. The maid is depressed cos of her hometown problems. Stop it about the death."

A close family friend said: "The parents are inconsolable. The mum was crying non-stop, and the dad's head was buried in his hands."


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