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Daily Nation : February 2nd 2014
SUNDAY NATION February 2, 2014 and are demanding money to assure one of protection and even existence If they don’t like you, you better look for another job because you won’t be allowed to work ... So, just give them what they demand has spent the last three years in prison, he is still considered the most famous artiste of the dancehall genre, and his music is hugely popular and has a huge influence among the youth. The common denominator among Kayole’s Gaza is their love of dancehall music — a music genre originating in Jamaica that is associated with violence, bhang smoking, gang warfare, nudity and vulgarity that has become a fad among the youth in the area. In Kayole, most matatus, bar- bershops, salons, and bars are decorated with dancehall themes and play dancehall music round the clock. Unlike the Mungiki, whose members often wore dreadlocks, it is hard to distinguish members of the gang from other youths by their appearance, although most prefer wearing caps facing backwards, carry concealed knives at their waists and have identification tattoos on their upper left arms made when they are being oathed in a location that is a closely guarded secret in Dandora. The tattoos are drawn with a hot wire and daubed with an ink solution. “There are so many young people trapped in poverty and hopelessness facing police brutality every day, but Gaza offers you an option to either continue being poor or make some money,” said a member who said to call him Johnny. “Furthermore, you are offered a family that you can fall back on whenever you have a problem. This is Kayole, and anything can happen at any time,and you need people to watch your back,” he explained. For two days, Johnny offered vealed by some of the gang’s members interviewed by the Sunday Nation, led to the rise of Gaza. It’s an offshoot of the Mungiki created last year by remnants of the sect but does not have an ethnic dimension like its predecessor. Gaza takes its name from Port- more, a shanty town in Jamaica that is said to be controlled by a gang with a similar name that steals and kills at will under the command of Jamaican dancehall artiste Adjija Palmer Vybez Kartel who is currently facing trial in connection with two murders, illegal possession of firearms and armed robbery. Though he WHAT’S MORE? They kill to instil fear among locals street with parts missing. Gaza is said to be an offshoot of the dreaded Mungiki sect which went underground following a crackdown by the police, which left hundreds of them dead. The gang had adopted the same tactics as Mungiki, generally pushing people into submission through terror, which sometimes is seen in form of ritual-apparent killings with their victims’ bodies dumped in the middle of a Members also extort money from villagers, especially business owners, landlords and matatu crews and owners. While acknowledging the presence of the gang, Kayole OCPD Samuel Mukindia has downplayed their influence, blaming business people and matatu crews for not reporting harassment. JEFF ANGOTE | NATION Scene-of-crime police officers pull out one of three bodies of workers of Astrol Petrol Station hacked to death on December 2 last year during a robbery at the station. the Sunday Nation access to some of the group’s activities like extortion from matatus at Kayole One area and B3, although he claimed that they also extort money from other routes on Kangundo Road, as far away as Ruai. Johnny sat with three of his colleagues in a hired van parked strategically on the road, chewing miraa and eating groundnuts as each passing matatu paid Sh100 notes per trip. The van offered a perfect blind from the police or passersby. And for the whole day, not single policeman demanded to know what the occupants of the van were doing there, although a police patrol van passed by every now and then. Patrol guys “Each matatu that gives money is recorded, and at the end of the day we will reconcile our list with that of our patrol guys,” Johnny said. The “patrol guys” he was refer- ring to are members of the gang who pose as conductors on the street and demand “squads” – a mandatory temporary shift as either a conductor or driver to solicit a fee from passengers going to town from all the matatus that run in Kayole and its environs. It is mandatory for all matatu crews to give “squads” to members of the gang whenever they make a round trip from town. Each squad is Sh100 per driver and Sh50 per conductor, and matatus that fail to comply will not be allowed to run on the routes they control. The gang members who idle around all passenger pick-up points enforce such orders. “Owners of all vehicles must pay operation fees before being allowed on the road, and all drivers and conductors must be vetted by them,” said Michael, a conductor on Route 17. “If they don’t like you, then you better look for another job because you won’t be allowed to work. So in order to be in their good books, just give them whatever money they want.” The police deny that matatu operators are being extorted and instead blame them for tolerating the gang by giving them money. “I have not received any report of people collecting money from matatu operators. If there are any, let them come and report to us because we have a mechanism of getting those criminals,” said Mr Mukindia. “And if there is any form of extortion, then the matatus are collaborating with those thugs. Why are they not reporting to us?” he asked. A report by The National Crime Research Centre released last August listed Kayole as one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Nairobi. The report called the area a gang infested area notorious for kidnappings, illicit arms trade, muggings and armed robbery. According to the report, 50.2 per cent of criminal gangs engage in drug trafficking while 34.4 per cent engage in extortion of money while a further 33.2 kidnap for ransom. National News 5 From petty to hard crime: Recruits start by stealing books and snatching bags JEFF ANGOTE | NATION Kayole in Nairobi where Gaza gangsters terrorise residents. Recruits start by commit- ting petty crimes like stealing textbooks from students and snatching handbags from women. After that, they graduate to more sophisticated activities, including kidnapping and carjacking. The gang members claim to value life and killings are only committed in special cases, like when a victim fails to cooperate. On the morning of Decem- ber 4, last year, the body of a woman aged between 19 and 23 was found naked on the roadside near Kayole One Primary School. George Ouma, who lives in the area, said it looked like a ritual killing. “The girl was naked and her breasts had been chopped off and her head had been cut into two. The body had cuts in some specific areas like arms and legs,” he said. “The last time I saw anything like this was when the Mungiki were around and since they are not there any more, then Gaza must have done it.” Apart from such murders, the gang waylays people at strategic points from time to time robbing them of valuables besides demanding protection and service fees from residential property owners and business owners, a fact police deny. If the residents fail to co-op- erate, the gang creates artificial insecurity through burglaries, muggings or kidnappings to coerce the residents into paying for protection. The muggings are carried out by gang members themselves or normal robbers under the protection of the gang. On December 2, last year, the country woke to news that a gang armed with machetes and other crude weapons walked into the Astrol petrol station in neighbouring Utawala estate and hacked four people to death and then stole money. Although the police insist that this was a normal robbery, residents say that at around that same period, some businesses had started being forced to give out daily protection fees. “Some time in November, young boys started appearing asking us politely for lunch money, at times Sh20 or 30, and with time their requests turned to demands and the figure increased,” said Patrick Momanyi. “As the figure increased, they said the money was for protection since the police were not doing their job and, true to their word, some people were getting mugged and shops broken into,” he said. According to him, the burgla- ries followed a similar pattern. Shops that were being broken into belonged to shop owners who had refused to co-operate. To be safe, shop owners now pay Sh50 to the gang every day apart from the tax they pay to the county government. The Organised Crimes Act gazetted in 2010 outlawed the operation of criminal gangs in If residents fail to co-operate, the gang creates artificial insecuritythrough burglaries,” resident the country and imposed jail terms ranging from 14 years to life imprisonment. The Act states that anyone who organises, fundraises, directs gang members to commit a crime or administers an oath is liable to up to life imprisonment. It has, however, been nearly impossible for the police service to enforce the law since they lack the capacity to do it and also criminal gangs hibernate whenever an operation is carried out only to resurface or metamorphose like Gaza. Some police officers have also been accused of colluding with the gang members by allowing them to roam freely terrorising the residents.
February 1st 2014
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