Face to face with a merchant of children for sex

By Dann Okoth

Posted on East African Standard here

Senior Reporter

Nairobi, the country’s bustling capital city has many faces – the visible and invisible.

At daytime, the infrastructure and pulsating commerce is the most visible side of the city.

The other face of Nairobi is the nightlife, which shrouds a flurry of activities like prostitution, and other crimes. The night and day in Nairobi has a third face that often goes undetected – activities of paedophiles. I found out about this the hard way as I embarked on a three-month long investigation into this phenomenon in a treacherous and unforgiving criminal underworld.

Week 1: After weeks of prodding and negotiating with a friend we grew up together in an estate in Kisumu who now works at an upmarket hotel in Westlands in Nairobi as bouncer, he agrees to embed me at the club as I investigate paedophilia. In earlier conversations he admitted the crime could be going there.

I arrive at the club some minutes to mid-night on the first day and stay up until dawn but draw a blank. I had little luck the rest of the week.

Week 2: By this time I have established another contact – a waiter at the club who has worked there for many years. He offers to help and promises to introduce me to a woman who he claims trades in children.

I have learnt more of what goes on at the club. One evening, I see a Cabinet minister enter the club and disappear into an inner room the bouncer had described as the ‘theatre’ to mean where children are defiled and sodomised. The minister who has no bodyguard or company leaves after just 15 minutes.

Week 3: After several failed attempts to meet with the merchant, she finally calls to set up a meeting at the club on a weekend. Although it is only Monday I cannot wait for Saturday. I’m excited because this could be the opportunity to crack a big story.

Eager to see what sort of person this woman is, I seated at the club by 6pm on a Saturday evening. Although I can ill-afford the drinks here, I order a few rounds if only not appear out of place – never mind I also have to foot the bouncer and waiter’s bill.

The woman finally arrives a few minutes past midnight. She is stunning. Her attire, grooming and demeanour speak of wealth. She looks and smells rich.

She ushers me to a private room at the club. The staff at the door of the cubicle – I gather he is Italian from the accent –– bows before her as he opens the door. She orders club soda on ice. I go for triple tot of Jack Daniels. I need to steady my nerves.

At this point, I consider I should have dressed much better. Although I borrowed a few ‘bling bling’ from estate yuppies to appear modern and sophisticated, and camouflage my true identity it was still a far cry compared to the elaborately magnificence and sophistication the woman displays.

One thing I never let down is my guard. I want to sound as sophisticated and appear as suave as possible to fit in her world.

She is a woman of very few words.

Well, I tell her I have some friends from Europe – of course after giving her a false impression I stayed in Europe for a long time. And these friends, I continue, have rather peculiar sexual preferences because they like sex with young girls. I tell her I was informed she could help. She does not seem surprised.

“Have you done this before?” she asks.

“Not, not all,” I reply. I am brutally honest with her… at least on this one.

“Well it is complicated you know,” she says, as she sips her drink.

“But let me have your number I will call you in a week’s time.”

Can she confirm she will deliver, I ask, because my friends wouldn’t like to be disappointed?

“Leave it to me,” she says, and picks up her bag and leaves. I follow her to the common area but I notice she does not even settle her bill. And although she did not arrive in a car, one is waiting for her in the parking.

Week 4: Unknown caller calls my number on a Monday morning. I am reluctant to pick it up. I usually do not pick calls from unidentified callers.

“Is this Dann?” sounded a woman’s voice on the other end of the line. “We met last weekend, I think your parcel can be delivered,” she says. “But you will have to meet certain strict conditions first. Let’s meet at the same place Sunday.”

She hangs up, without giving me any chance to respond. I am left wondering what the conditions are. She rings me thrice on Friday to confirm our meeting, but each time she contacts me she uses a different number.

Sunday night comes and passes and the woman does not show up or call. The waiter tells me to be patient “probably she is testing you”.

Week 5: I’m rudely awakened in the middle of the night by my ringing phone. Who could be calling at such ungodly hours? I wonder. It is a strange number and again I’m reluctant to pick it.

“Hi Dann, it is “Sophie”. “Sophie!” but who is Sophie? I ask. The woman you met in Westlands, you remember? I was later to confirm Sophie is not her real name.

“Go to the club right now I will meet you there in the next 20 minutes,” she commands and hangs up. I curse the gods, but at the same time I’m excited. I call my taxi driver who fortunately had been lingering about in the estate. I arrive at the club at 1.30 am. I am shocked it is full to the brim.

I spot ‘my date’ at the corner of the main bar. As I approach, she stands up and walks to the private room. Tonight, I notice she is rather at ease. She even offers to buy a meal. I decline but say a drink will do. She orders the usual club soda on ice. But tonight I’m more interested in the news she bears.

Listen, she says, after clearing her voice.

“I have what you want, but I will only deliver it on the day your guests arrive. Here is the deal. I have a choice of six children all of them under 15, all girls. I will deliver the first three upon receiving a deposit of Sh10, 000 for each. Your guest can sample them for a night — if they don’t like them I will bring the other three for sampling absolutely free — but from this point I will be dealing with your guests directly. Do you follow?” Do I follow? At this point I’m not quite sure because my head is in a spin.

Week 6: After two weeks without contact, she calls to confirm whether I am still interested in the deal. I tell her I am but my guests postponed their arrival date.

“It’s all right,” she says. Remember I gave a good deal do not throw it way,” she reminds.

Week 7: Sophie calls me up for a surprise treat. She wants to buy me drinks in town.

“Could we meet in town in the next hour? she asks. It is a boring Saturday evening and I don’t have any plans. I could do with a drink. If there was any doubt the sort of person I was dealing with then that encounter would clear the air.

Sophie shows up in a brand new Mercedes S-class vehicle. She takes me for a drive in the leafy suburbs of Muthaiga, and the far-flung Kitsuru, before we end up at an exclusive club in Spring Valley.

The way she is handling the car leaves no doubt in my mind she is used to such machines.

I gather she is doing all these to reaffirm her authority and prove to me that I’m dealing with a ‘pro’ in the business.

I contemplate setting a trap for her to be arrested, but decide against it since that is the work of the relevant authorities.

She calls three more times after this encounter to find out if I am still interested in the deal, but sensing little enthusiasm from me, she cuts off communication.

dokoth@standardmedia.co.ke

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