Nakuru gangs leave a trail of blood and tears
They are protected by a wall of silence, woven into the community’s fabric, but make no mistake about it– they are lethal and can kill with no qualms.
Residents of Nakuru only mention the names of the gangs– Gaza, Confirmed and Wazito wa Tanzania (TZ) in hushed tones lest they fall victim of their wrath.
Their modus operandi is so complex that police officers within the region have been unable to contain their activities despite calls from locals.
In the past three months, the criminal gangs within Nakuru County have expanded their territories and recruited more members right under the nose of security agencies.
They operate in groups, each with distinctive identities, robbing and harming residents within specific marked territories.
Peter Tena, a Nakuru resident and a human rights activist with KIDPO Kenya, accuses police of colluding with the gangsters.
He accused police of creating a network with criminal informants in the gangs and offering them immunity from prosecution.
Tena claimed some of the informers view themselves as shareholders in matters of security, adding that some go rogue and give information to the gangs about police operations.
“There is common sharing of information, which compromises the police and in turn the groups cannot be contained,” said Tena.
However, Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui denied the claims and said they have deployed a contingent of multi-agency teams to the areas to restore calm.
He added that operations to crackdown on the gangs are ongoing.
While calling on residents to cooperate and reveal the identities of the gang’s members, Mbui said they have crucial information that will lead to arrests.
According to Mbui, they had managed to destabilise a number of the criminal networks.
“We have identified some gang members whom the police are tracking down, we will not relent until the matter is fully addressed,” said Mbui.
Early this month, police arrested nine notorious gang members peddling cocaine and bhang in the slums with efforts to arrest their ‘connections’ underway.
Members of the gangs who are believed to be between the ages of 15-30 years have turned to crime to bankroll their appetite for quick cash, partying and sex.
Armed and dangerous
They are armed, and dangerous, and are giving police and residents sleepless nights as they hover in the day like eagles and under the cover of the night like owls.
The three gangs are distributed in Kivumbini, Lake View, Rhonda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni slums.
These estates have for a long time been a den of drug trafficking, muggings and robberies with a number of its victims forced to relocate.
You can easily find drugs such as cocaine, bhang, and heroin, however, you need to have a code language or ‘reverse sheng’ to be able to access the product.
The gangs are usually seated along the pathways leading into the slums in groups as they monitor non-locals before preying on them.
A number of them are neatly dressed, however, you can recognise them through their hairstyle and open shoes or boots.
It is believed the groups have been in involved in a series of killings and gang rape within the county, the latest being the death of four people after the gangs clashed.
It is not the first time the gangs have engaged in attacks over territory with sources intimating that drug zones had escalated the fights.
All the three are said to have been part of the larger Confirmed gang before splitting to command their own zones after a series of disagreements and police crackdowns in the area.
Initially, confirmed started off as a mobile money transfer scam group, but later morphed into a violent gang.
Despite calls from locals to have police conduct more patrols in the areas, little has been done to curb their operations.
The gangs have now ‘graduated’ and are on hire with the highest bidder, getting full services including intimidation and chaos with a number of local leaders accused of funding the gangs.
In September, the gang disrupted operations in the central business district while engaging the police in running battles for hours.
This comes even as Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui called on the Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i to reign in criminal gangs in the county.
In a statement issued to newsrooms, the governor noted that the escalation of organised crime in sections of Nakuru estates was a major threat to progress and development and could derail the devolved unit’s development agenda.
Kinyanjui noted that in the last few years, the county had witnessed the emergence of criminal groupings composed of mainly young men and women barely out of their teens and especially in the lower Nakuru municipality estates where levels of income are low and school dropout rates high.
He attributed the involvement of the teenagers in criminal activities to peer pressure, unemployment, proliferation of drugs, and breakdown of the family unit.
“What started as a small illegal group is now evolving into a monster that is now causing mayhem and destruction across Nakuru estates,” the governor observed.
He expressed concern that over the years, the illegal gangs had gained protection from politicians who use them as a mobilisation tool to achieve political agenda.
The governor expressed concern that while the leaders achieved their short-term goals, the young people are hooked to a world of crime and drugs for eternity.
Kinyanjui’s concerns come in the wake of the murder of three people who were killed in broad daylight in suspected gang battles.
He called for immediate and tangible steps to restore confidence and normalcy in affected estates as the situation was now getting out of hand.
“We urge Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to act swiftly to prevent further loss of life,” the statement further said.
He said that his administration would work with other agencies to identify members of the groups willing to abandon their criminal lifestyle with a view to rehabilitating them.