Nairobi is no longer the safe haven we thought it was.
A city man, Kelvin Cayman narrates how he thought his ride home from work was going to be smooth until thugs carjacked the Citi Hoppa he was riding in.
“If you thought you are safe in your Estate/home bound bus/matatu after crossing the dangerous and “mugger-ful” Nairobi streets. This time, you are wrong! You are making the worst assumption.
So on Tuesday 13th February my friend Laz Korir asked to meet me in town so we can discuss how we shall collaborate in developing a certain app. We sat at Highland Platinumz from 7pm up to some minutes to 9pm as we talked about stuffs.
I live in Pipeline area so I had several route options. However my dislike for loud music in the Embassava Sacco busses and the Kanambos left me with Citi Hoppa option. Well frankly I have always taken this option anytime with headache or without, I just like how they travel slowly and smoothly – usually gives me time to meditate and think about things…lool.
This evening looks like people are boarding slow, I was among the first to board, at the door I was frisked and then I sat on the rear wheels row, on the driver’s side. The fleet number was 404. So we leave town prolly some minutes after 9pm or 9.30…, I am not sure the exact time. The tout started his business and by the time we were speeding past Nyayo Stadium I was handing in my ‘fote’, Ksh 40/- bus fare. At that time I was between dozing off and eavesdropping to a couple who were seated next to me talking about their neighbor who has been doing too loud music.
On passing the Southern By-pass interchange, I heard someone seated somewhere in front of me shout “Shukisha”. That statement always triggers your mind to brace because the auto is braking. And there we briefly stopped at Airtel stage. I was not paying any attention to what was happening. I know shukisha means someone is being dropped.
To my surprise there was a scuffle at the door to the driver’s section, then someone shouted “Kila mtu chini…”, another one repeated “Kila mtu chini na ukiinuka nakumaliza…”. Another guy dashed from the back seats shouting “kila lala mtu chini…” as he slapped people to the front of the bus then back.
In the process…my mind was like. “Today’s pastor has used a weird way to seek attention.” These buses usually have pastors preaching. But it was a glimpse of a guy handling something like a pistol that made me fit in a space I can’t fit normally. At the same time we were being ordered to lie down. Our driver was ‘overthrown’ and the reality was, we were in the hands of a 5-persons carjacking gang and one of them was now our driver. All the ‘overthrowing’ happened in the brief in the brief stop where instead of someone alighting, someone aboard with their weapons of ‘work’ – read pistol(s) and some knives.
So the illegitimate – son of a bitch driver speeds past Sameer Business park and instead of following Mombasa road, he diverts into Enterprise road.
Inside the bus over 40 passengers are being terrorized while lying on the floor. “Leta simu na pesa…”x10,000 were the only statements you could hear. Handbags, pockets, any carriers emptied. On my hot completely uncomfortable corner I was doing my “Hail Mary…”s. I am a Catholic. I removed my phone from my pocket and dropped it on the floor.
So then comes my turn to give money and my phone, this thug gets to me…he ordered me to stand… The pistol in his hand, he first puts it back in the holster. I lifted my arms up and kinda begged for mercy “Akh bro sina phone ni tu hii phone na hizi coins na hizi sticky notes na wallet….” The look I gave him he instantly believed me and picked my wallet (which had only my National ID card, 2 Equity bank ATM cards, alooooooot of business cards), I think the coins I handed him was only 15bob, literally after paying the bus fare I was left with 30 shs and I later found I still had 15 bob in my pocket ( stop laughing..) and my sticky notes which had important points on the Apps discussion I had with Laz. The way he picked the sticky notes I thing he perceived it was some cash notes. He puts my stuffs call it contribution in a handbag he picked from the lady seated next to me. I was in a white shirt and a blueish trouser so he parted with “Lala chini student…”
When I got down I picked my phone and….guess where I did hide it. Yes, you are right. Thanks to my big butt.
Then the thug came again after his commander shouted to him “Baba hapo hamfanyi kazi vizuri hapo nyuma…”. This time he was determined to get something out of me, so instead of ordering me to hand in anything he decided to check himself.
The idiot started with my armpit, down into my pockets and then shamelessly my balls. Imagine lifted up my balls. Fuck! Now that was completely uncomfortable as he repeated. And then he miraculously ignored my butt! That’s where the phone was feeling the heat and “drinking” all the sweat. He moved to another person, I couldn’t believe it.
My joy was short-lived when I realized my phone’s “Ringer and Message Volume” was full blast.
My heart was now popping out as I sat on my phone I hoped when it rings the sound will be kinda “absorbed by the ass”. Prayers continued.
Now we are at Jogoo road headed towards Donholm when we were ordered to “Sit kama abiria…”. At this time they are done with the major part of their business and they are now rerunning searching algorithms to some passengers. The thug in-charge of the rear section sat on our seat. Now my heartbeats literally tripled. “Even if I my ass absorb the volume which hmm..impossible, it can’t absorb the vibration.” That was killing me faster than the bullets I may receive once this devil learns I have my phone. At that time of the evening there’s usually a likelihood I receive a call from a friend or my family.
It’s at this point I thought about my death, how the burial would be. My Eulogy would be so short…. Birth, Education, Death at 25. I thought about the several apps I am doing, who will complete them? I thought about my dreams, my friends, my family. How maybe one the leaders will condemn the act but technically will not be even aware I was in the bus. I remembered I don’t have a girlfriend, technically no one would feel the loss from that end. “I am just as useless as dead…” I thought. And in a way I changed my view of life from that end. First things first I need a girlfriend, someone we shall do these apps together…loool..
(Back from girlfriend commercial) To other passengers, a few got some beating because as the thugs claimed they looked like AP officers, they were judging from the style of the hair cut. The balder you look, the more likely you are a security officer.
From Jogoo rd we join Outering road and now we are heading towards Allsops still the thug sitting on our seat… cut that part because that’s where the epicenter of the impact of my trauma and I don’t want to talk about it.
God is great no one has called or texted when the thieves ordered us to lean forward as they jumped out the bus in a dark alley somewhere in Kariobangi!!! They had bountifully made away with over 30 phones, over a 100k and other valuables.
They gave back the bus to our driver and ordered him to speed off and not look back.
Fast forward to Buruburu Police Station. The time is now 11.30pm. OOOH MY GOD!! Sincerely speaking. The lowest service and professionalism I have ever seen. We start with statement recording at the OB, they officer guy in charge was recording on a foolscap. I have never been to a police station again but I know OB stands for Occurrence Book. Which is a book. I asked him why foolscap and he said he will transfer.
Then the listening part, so an officer asks you what happened, then in the middle of you explaining he switches to a phone, doesn’t show any attention and he goes to the next person. It was the ‘coldest’ service.
Having spent an hour and a half it’s now 1am. We’re through with the statements. Things feels thickest and everyone wants to go home when another officer appears and says. “Ngonjeni OCS anakuja asikie hii case yenu…”…Aaaarrrgh!
We sat on the cold floor in-front of the reception recounting what just happened. Another very neatly dressed officer appear and listens to one of the group then this was his reply.
“Mimi sipigii mtu debe lakini ukitaka vizuri, panda ile gari iko na kichwa. Hizi za Route 23, lakini Citi Hoppa na Double M achana nayo… Hawa wezi wanajuanga zile gari zinabeba watu wako na pesa.(meaning the one the driver section is separate with the passenger section)”
That was really disturbing! Really hopeless and awful.
When the OCS arrived a few victims were selected and they went with him into the office to recount the same story. Then he decided to shock us more by saying… “Wale wako na means wanaeza enda nyumbani, wale watabaki nitajua.”
It’s fucking 2 AM, you’ve been robbed, they have grounded the bus we had paid for, locked up our driver and the tout, the officer is really this damn kind and you are like 50 kilometers from where you stay…
With my little knowledge I asked one the passengers who had identified himself as a pastor and had been robbed 16000 shs we join and lobby to get a transport through their lorry that was parked outside the station with headlights on. Thanks to my little courage and English the OCS submitted and we got a ride home. In a way I was treated a superman.
Our case is OB Number 85/13/2/18.
So dear people when you get to your apartment/block or whatever you call home, thank God and see it as a miracle.
If possible tumia zile gari ziko na kichwa. Right now the noisy and overated Kanambo is bae.
And it’s not safe at all. The President, Gov Sonko and all security organs in the city should know it’s not safe. AT ALL!!”