Security agents' dilemma in war against dreaded Nakuru gangs


Nakuru County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara with Police Commander Zacharia Kimani and other security officers inspecting some weapons recovered from criminal gangs at Kaptembwo Police Station on June 7, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Organised criminal gangs have been a persistent source of trouble for Nakuru residents for over a decade now.

The gangs, whose methods of attack, objectives, and target areas are constantly evolving, have caused loss of life, disrupted, and placed the careers of security officers on the line.

After a period of inactivity, the gangs often resurface with alarming acts of violence and theft, prompting the police to swing into action and contain them.

After the raids, the police parade the suspects alongside their weapons and drugs, but each time, it is a different set of gang members pointing at their large numbers.

When the gangs attack, members of the public are often quick to accuse the police of laxity or cooperation with the gangs, leading to the transfer, demotion, and recalling of police commanders at different ranks.

Deployment of new commanders who come with unique approaches has, however, proven to be a temporary solution as the gangs regroup shortly afterwards and resume their activities.

A case in point is the recent return of organised gangs in Nakuru East and Nakuru West, now giving residents and traders sleepless nights and restless daytime due to their unpredictability and ruthlessness.

Joseph Gachuiya, the chairperson for Kiratina Bodaboda Sacco, Nakuru East, is the most recent victim of a gang’s attack on Monday night.

His assailants didn’t steal anything from him. 

Riders who responded to his distress call rushed him to a local clinic, where they were directed to Nakuru Level 5 hospital. 

At the hospital, Gachuiya had to endure the pain with the dagger still stuck in his back for almost ten hours as doctors brainstormed on how to remove it.

“We received the patient at 1am. With the knife stuck in his back and into the chest cavity, he could not fit in the CT scanner. Our specialists had to do other alternative investigations for safe removal,” said Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Michael Sitima.

The operation to remove the knife took the surgeons one and a half hours as they carefully operated on the region that has vital and highly sensitive organs.

Back in Kiratina, angry bodaboda riders embarked on a search for the suspects whom the victim had positively identified.

The riders rounded up two suspects who were forced to name their counterparts. The two were given a dog’s beating and set on fire before the police rescued and rushed them to the same hospital.

During our visit, one of the victims accused of being part of the gang revealed that the suspect who stabbed Mr Gachuiya was known but was being protected by some of the bodaboda operators.

“As they were beating us up, my friend was trying to give the name of the suspect who stabbed the chairman. However, a brother to the prime suspect, who is also a boda boda rider, repeatedly hit him to silence him,” said the victim of mob injustice.

The revelation points to the infiltration of the gangs among genuine boda boda riders who are among the major victims of such attacks, as some of them cover up for the criminals due to their close links.

A combination of other factors has further made it difficult for security agencies to act on the gang with finality as they keep mushrooming shortly after being suppressed.

Peter Kinyanjui, the chairperson for community policing groups in Rhonda, Nakuru West, cites lack of education, unemployment, and rogue cops as some of the main challenges in eradicating criminals in the area.

“There is a high level of school dropout in the peri-urban settlements. It is the same teenagers who are forming these gangs and terrorising the same society they were born into,” said Kinyanjui.

Nakuru East MP David Gikaria regrets that innocent people have fallen victim to the gangs as they fight among themselves.

“We have reports of these teenagers fighting over lovers. One is wounded or killed, and the gangs organise for retaliatory attacks without even having a second thought. It is a shame that they have a poor upbringing that makes them fight over women,” said Gikaria.

Nakuru County Police Commander Samuel Ndanyi says such attacks between rival gangs have been common in the informal settlements.

The county police boss further says that they were ready to work with the elders in smoking out rogue officers cooperating with criminals.


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