Why police are turning their guns on each other

By  KIPCHUMBA SOME  ksome@ke.nationmedia.co.ke   Posted  Saturday, May 28 2011 at 22:00

On the morning of Saturday, May 13, 2011, Police Constable Jacob Rop shot dead his boss, Senior Sergeant Hassan Yusuf, following what was termed a “brief argument” at Parklands police station in Nairobi.

He then turned his weapon on his colleague, Constable Stephen Maganga, who had tried to intervene, and shot him near the abdomen. The “gentle” constable, as his friends describe him, finally directed his smoking weapon at himself and pulled the trigger, shattering his head.

In this sad affair, his close friends regret only one thing; that Rop killed himself and Constable Maganga who they say was innocent.

What about Senior Sergeant Yusuf? “It was sad, too, but he brought it upon himself,” a close friend of Rop told the Sunday Nation.

His weapon

This was not the first time a junior officer was turning his weapon on his seniors and colleagues.

On March 26 this year at the Narumoru police station, Police Constable Mark Mutwiri Mbogo allegedly shot dead two of his superiors – Senior Sergeant John Koros and acting Inspector Hudson Orwenyo Morang’a.

In February, a GSU officer shot his boss 14 times and injured another officer in Mombasa before turning the gun on himself.

In November last year, AP constable Peter Karanja allegedly shot 10 people dead in three bars in Siakago and then tried to kill himself only to realise he had run out of bullets. He handed himself over to police officers.

In the wake of the Parklands incident, Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere explained that high stress levels were to blame for the increasing incidence of junior police officers turning their weapons on their bosses and the public. He constituted a task force to look into the issue.

Problems afflicting the police force tend to be viewed in a larger perspective – low wages and poor housing – that overlooks the details.

However, a dozen junior and mid-level officers dissatisfied with their bosses’ explanations sat down with the Sunday Nation and candidly explained what, in their view, is ailing their force.

And what they said, which the Sunday Nation confirmed in independent investigations, points to unfettered corruption within the police hierarchy, a breakdown in communication between junior officers and their superiors, and an archaic code of conduct and discipline that seems to oppress and suppress rather than guide.

Their grievances are best expressed by illustrating what happened on that fateful Saturday morning when Rop, a man described as polite by his colleagues, suddenly turned murderous.

“Yusuf should have stuck to the agreement,” a colleague who was at the station during the shooting incident said.

Apparently, as the Sunday Nation learnt, there are “lucrative” areas in the city.

These are basically places where money changes hands a lot. They include banks, casinos and popular night clubs.

“In casinos, the management gives you something small at the end of the night. Maybe Sh1,000 or even Sh3,000. You might also get tips from customers who have won and want armed escort. You will never go broke when you are working in a casino,” explained an officer.

Expectedly, officers crave to be assigned to work in these areas. But this does not come free, as we learnt.

“Our bosses know these places are lucrative and they demand something in return in order to post us to these areas,” explained an officer who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The standard amount given to an officer in charge for one to be assigned to, for instance, a casino in Westlands for a whole week is usually Sh5,000 per person, plus a daily commission, explained the officer who works at Parklands police station.

An agreement

He further explained that Rop had come to such an agreement with Sergeant Yusuf and he was to be assigned duties for a whole week inside one of the casinos in Westlands.

“But Rop did not have the full Sh5,000, so he gave him half with the promise to pay the other half within the week, plus the daily commissions,” explained one of his friends.

But Sergeant Yusuf apparently reneged on the agreement.

“When he reported to work, Rop discovered that he had been assigned outside the casino and not inside,” continued his friend. The group says there is more money to make inside rather than outside a casino.

Things might not have gone awry the way they did had Sergeant Yusuf the following morning not demanded from Rop the remaining Sh2,500 and the commission, according to officers who witnessed the incident.

“Rop told him that he had not made any money but Yusuf wouldn’t listen to him.  Rop pleaded with him, but Yusuf was not interested in hearing him out,” said his colleague.

The disagreement escalated and it is alleged that Sergeant Yusuf slapped him in the process. When Rop realised his senior was not going to listen to him, he reached for his gun and added to the grim statistics of police directing fire at themselves.

And tragic as it was, this incident illustrates the endemic corruption within the police force.

“You always accuse us of being corrupt, but we are simply passing down to you a cost that has been imposed on us by our seniors. You will never go far in the police force if you do not grease some bosses’ hands,” said the officers.

Take, for example, the police uniform. Officers are supposed to get it free of charge but none of the dozen officers who talked to us remembered getting the items free.

“Depending on who is in the store, we give the storeman between Sh200 and Sh500,” they said.

The same applies to promotions. “I gave out Sh30,000 for this post,” said a senior sergeant who also requested anonymity. “But I consider myself lucky. Some of my friends have taken loans to facilitate their promotions,” he added.

Getting information about training and promotion opportunities in the first place is near impossible, which, the officers argue, contravenes their constitutional right to information.

“When signals are sent from Vigilance House about such training and promotion opportunities, they are hardly posted on the notice boards of our stations as the rules stipulate,” said another officer.

He continued: “Some of our bosses sit on them. They then call their favourite officers aside or those who are willing to pay and inform them of these opportunities. We only learn that such opportunities were available when our colleagues leave for training.”

A junior female officer said that for them to get promoted, they had to be “willing to do anything for it”.

“I have been asked on two occasions for sexual favours for a promotion and I refused. But I know of colleagues who have made sacrifices and they are doing well,” she said.

Retired military captain Simiyu Werunga, who is also a security analyst, contends that the high-level corruption in the police force is slowly but gradually eroding the respect junior officers hold for their seniors.

“It creates an impression among junior officers that their superiors hold positions not as a result of due merit but because they bribed their way to those positions. They might be wrong, they might be right. The bottom line is that it breeds a lot of disrespect,” he said.

There is also a feeling among police officers that their seniors are using them to enrich themselves, either through direct corruption – asking for bribes – or through what they termed ‘‘soft corruption’’– withholding services from them.

For example, although it is a right for police officers to be given transport and an accommodation allowance to attend court cases in towns or stations far from the ones they are serving in at that time, this hardly happens.

“We use our own money to go for these cases. When we ask, we may be told there is no cash. And you cannot afford to miss such court hearings because, besides constituting disciplinary action, the court can issue a warrant of arrest,” said an officer.

The belief among junior officers is that when these allowances are released, their bosses keep the money for themselves.

Further, in an effort to modernise the force, the police began to employ highly qualified candidates. As a result, among junior police ranks are degree and diploma holders qualified in various fields. But in most cases, this has caused tension between them and their seniors.

“A good number of our bosses possess low academic qualifications and therefore feel threatened by more qualified juniors. They neutralise the threat by making their lives as difficult as possible,” said another officer.

In this respect, the force’s standing orders – the set of rules that guide conduct and discipline of police officers – have become a great source of oppression and suppression to the police officers rather than a guiding document.

Constituted in 1961, the document is archaic and out of step with the new Constitution and modern policing practices.

“We are a disciplined force and we follow orders. But these rules have reduced us to school children. A malicious senior can level all manner of accusations against you.”

Mutwiri, alleged to have shot his seniors in Narumoru, is said to have done so to protest a sentence handed by an orderly room – a type of court proceeding that addresses disciplinary matters in police stations.

Usually such proceedings against a junior officer are presided over by an officer with the rank of an acting inspector of police and above.

Depending on the case, penalties include salary deduction, extra duties or even dismissals.

“The sad thing is that people come with a pre-determined mind,” said an officer who has been through such a trial. “When I tried to defend myself, I was accused of using insubordinate language. This carries a heavier penalty, including dismissal from the force. I just accepted my mistakes and given extra duties. But I felt I was unfairly tried and sentenced.”

And then there is the circuitous process the standing orders require officers to go through when asking for permission to attend to emergencies at home on short notice.

The rule is that a family member of the particular officer must report to the police station nearest to them. The station will then send a request to Vigilance House which will then transmit it to the station where the particular officer is working. There is no room for the use of technology, such as mobile phones, which would make such communication much faster.

“And under such circumstances you are given a weapon to report to duty. Aren’t you a danger to yourself and the people you are supposed to watch over?” asked an officer.

The officers also have a dim view of the team constituted by Mr Iteere to look into their problems and think it will lead nowhere.

“The officers in the team are the same ones who are the primary causes of our problems. How will they look at our issues objectively? Junior officers fear being victimised for speaking truthfully about these issues,” one said.

In the officers’ view, an independent team consisting of retired officers and members of the public ought to have been given the job.

Efforts to get an official response from Vigilance House were not fruitful. Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe did not pick up calls made to his mobile phone or respond to text messages we sent him.

The deputy director in charge of police reforms, Mr Kingori Mwangi, declined to comment and instead referred us to Gina Din Communications, which he says has been mandated by the Police Reforms Implementation Committee to speak on the pace of the reform process.

‘Curses cannot touch me: I wear my underwear inside out’

 

The soccer ritual of hiding chicken butts behind goal posts is not confined to Africa for, soccer rituals are global.

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So ingrained are beliefs in magic that Fifa, the global soccer regulator, allowed teams to use medicine men during the 2010 World Cup where French coach Raymond Domenech’s belief in astrology was so strong that he chose players based on their zodiac signs.

Players born on the “wrong” date were benched pronto! The keen amateur drummer distrusted Scorpios like winger Robert Pires for midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo, a Libra who was instrumental in the 2010 qualifiers.

But Domenech comes nowhere close to Carlos Bilardo who coached Argentina between 1986 and 1990 and led them to their World Cup triumph in Mexico ’86.

“Big Nose” now 71, believed in the power of music. And the team listened to the same tune on their way to matches and the driver was ordered only to slow as the melody slackened, regardless of jams and traffic lights!

Bilardo also wore his “lucky” tie and beige coat besides carrying a statuette of the Virgin Mary to all encounters.

The final whistle is not gone on Bilardo who banned players from eating chicken believing it brought bad omen. He borrowed toothpaste from one a player before Argentina’s first match in Mexico, and held on to the routine to the Finals.

The Argentine team bus once broke down and taxis come in handy. Argentina won. From that day, players arrived for all matches — in taxis!

Italian Giovanni Trapattoni coached Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, and had the penchant for sprinkling holy water given to him by his sister, a nun.

Players too have their own superstitious acts: England and Chelsea’s John Terry sits on the same seat in the team bus, and listens the same Usher CD while French captain Laurent Blanc routinely kissed goalie Fabian Barthez’s clean shaven dome in the World Cup matches of France ’98.

Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea, now 47, had the curious habit of peeing in the middle of the pitch before penalty shootouts. During the quarterfinal shootouts against Yugoslavia in Italia ’90, fellow players surrounded him as he held the future of Argentina in his hands, literally. Yugoslavia lost.

Italy exited the same way in the semis.
Colombian madcap custodian Rene Higuita wore blue underwear during matches. His team Atletico Nacional never won against Independiente Medellin, their old rivals.

A fortuneteller suggested blue underpants would break the jinx. They won the Copa Libertadores, South America’s most prestigious club tourney, in the “blue” process!

“Curses cannot touch me because I wear my underwear inside out.” That was Romanian and Fiorentina striker, Adrian Mutu.

Saving the best for last. Brazilian coach Mario Zagallo had undying faith in number 13 as St Anthony’s Day fell on June 13– the day he married his wife, a devotee of St Anthony.

Zagallo believed Brazil would win the 2006 Germany World Cup because the then coach Carlos Alberto’s names had 13 letters and Brazil’s first match against Croatia was on June 13. But Alas! Italy won.

The now 79-year old lives on the 13th floor of an apartment block, won 13 World Cup matches and said he aided his recovery from a stomach cancer operation via visiting St Anthony’s shrine — 13 times!

African soccer and superstition

 

African soccer has been ordained by the belief in magic, flawed superstition and rituals to help teams win crucial matches.

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The beautiful game is so laden with superstition so much so that team work, efficiency, technical expertise and discipline are benched, subordinated or red carded off the pitch all together.

In Kenya, the soccer tragedy that Black Saturday during the much hyped, floodlit Kenya Premier League duel between arch rivals Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards nine days ago, was pegged on cheap passes such as; stadia (mis)management, inefficient security, inept crowd control, poor match timing, a ticketing debacle and heavy downpour.

But the belief by Gor Mahia fans that Nyayo National Stadium’s Gate NO. 2 is their one and only “lucky” entry, was blamed for the stampede that led to the injury of countless fans and death of seven others. Never mind that fans don’t play.

Soccer club rivalries are as common as goals, frustrated coaches and crazy fans: England’s Manchester United and Arsenal, Scotland’s Celtic and Rangers, Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona and Tanzania’s Simba and Yanga football clubs, just to whistle a few.

And fans and players employ all manner of talismans, mediums, rituals and practices steeped in magic or witchcraft to triumph over their opponents. From players donning lucky boots, jerseys, shin guards, planting animal body parts on the pitch, sprinkling snake blood, skipping over corpses, to smearing themselves with concoctions before shaking hands with their opponents.

The explosive encounters between Kenya’s “K’Ogallo” and “Ingwe” are no different; what with a lifelong rivalry being peppered by animosity between fans, accusations of witchcraft, and superstitious rituals. The two clubs have been known to use different routes to the stadium, believing their opponents have already contaminated them.

Richard Madegwa, who played for AFC Leopards and Kenya Breweries (now Tusker), recalls a sleepless night when they were driven around the whole night so that Gor Mahia couldn’t find out where they were booked for accommodation before their league-cum-Kenyatta Day Cup match in 1993.

“Superstition is normal in soccer and players scaled barbed wire fences instead of using the main gate alongside their rivals,” recalls Madegwa. A star player’s lucky boots, he says, would be kept elsewhere the night before an important match.

Individual players too had their own. The legendary William “Chege” Ouma, for instance, was known for entering the stadium through any route other than the main gate when Re-Union, was playing against Gor Mahia, his former club.

That is not all. The entry of a “non player” is also viewed with superstitious eyes. In October 2001, a dog appeared at Kasarani stadium during a match between AFC Leopards and Mathare United. It streaked across the field, stopped at the corner flag, raised one hind leg and piddled liberally.

Now imagine a picture Leopards fans aiming water bottles and stones at the mongrel. AFC Leopards fans also deflated balls when no goals were forthcoming believing they were “doctored” by their opponents. Such was the case in a Leopards match against Kenya Farmers Association F.C. (KFA) at the City Stadium in 1976. Leopards thrashed KFA 3-0 using a new ball.

This belief has since been off-sided. Henry Motego, a former Shabana, Tusker FC and Kenyan international striker recalls salt being sprinkled on the pitch before Shabana’s home matches in Gusii Stadium. “We were told it was to chase away evil spirits, but I never believed in such practices.”

Motego joined Kenya Breweries where there were rumours that “our team jerseys were washed at Kariobangi before crucial matches with water that had been used to bathe dead bodies. The player concerned was almost fired from the club.”

Kenneth Matiba, the Kenya Breweries Ltd chairman in the 70s, fired five players from the club for engaging in witchcraft. Matiba was then the chairman of the Kenya Football Federation and wanted to rough-tackle witchcraft out of Kenyan clubs which he said “were being taken for a ride by quacks,” recalls veteran sports writer Roy Gachuhi, author of the yet to be published, History of Kenyan Football.

Witchcraft and superstition were rife in the late 70s. To call the bluff Matiba flew in Norwich City, a Division One English side to play Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and coastal clubs, Champion and Mwenge FC, then the top local sides at a time when allegations of the practice were rampant.

Norwich City, the equivalent of the current Liverpool FC, had stars such as Martin Peters who had played in the 1966 England World Cup. “Matiba said he would allow witchcraft if Kenyan clubs used it to win against Norwich City,” recalls Gachuhi.

The teams were also to declare publicly that they engaged in it. “Only Mwenge FC publicly admitted using magic” adds Gachuhi giving the eventual embarrassing score line as follows: Gor lost 5-0, AFC Leopards 6-0, Champion 9-0 and Mwenge FC 3-1.

Matiba wanted had proved that entering the stadium at certain times, via certain gates and following instructions from the “researcher” (witchdoctor) did not work. Mwenge, a team known for taking its players for overnight graveyard tours before a crucial match, claimed their juju worked “a little” since they had the least goals scored against them, besides their solo goal.

Nevertheless, “Matiba, who was dictatorial but efficient, banned witchcraft in football and formed Kenya Breweries FC, Kenya’s first cosmopolitan team. Most Breweries players was poached from these clubs and employed at Kenya Breweries Ltd. So they had to stop using juju to survive in the club and retain their jobs,” recalls Gachuhi.

But there are “taboos” Matiba’s big broom couldn’t sweep away. Like the belief in not having anything to do with the fairer sex before a match. Gachuhi recalls one-time local dancer Princess Farida (now a born-again Christian) gyrating her waist in a pre-match entertainment for Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards fans.

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“She climbed on the table of the fourth official, and AFC demanded another table.” Women are the enemy of the team’s “researcher” and it was believed any contact with them would adversely affect the results. So players were not allowed sex three days to a match — or greeting women before crucial matches.

Gor Mahia players snubbed one-time Kenyan minister for Sports and Social Services because of her gender. “In such situations players just nod their heads to acknowledge the greeting, but they can never shake hands with a woman,” explains Madegwa.

We telephoned a famous K’Ogallo footballer who played for the team for many years.“I can’t divulge such team rituals, secrets or beliefs,” he said, adding: “I can only talk about positive stories that can develop Kenyan soccer.”

It is not just touching women that could influence a match. Before the start of the Kenya National Football League duel between the Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards in the mid ‘80s at the City Stadium, Gor chairman Zack Mbori and AFC Leopards’ Alfred Sambu were the “two principles” who would jointly carry the ball to the centre of the field “power sharing” style.

And the powers to touch players sometimes were vested on one particular person. Gor Mahia had a Mr Ochido the one who mostly handled equipment and injured players. Gachuhi remembers him as being the team’s physiotherapist “who was in his 60s but could run towards an injured player like a 20-year old when the referee signalled for help. There was a team doctor, but Ochido was integral to that outfit.”

How do superstitions take root in football? “They are started by the team “researcher” who is even paid more than the players” says Madegwa. “If the team wins, then that becomes the norm until it loses and another (medicine man) that could even be just a fan, comes up with a different ritual.”

Kenyan International, Allan Wanga, says if a player is comfortable, scores or plays well in a particular pair of boots, he may start believing that they bring good luck. Wanga has three different boots for training, when turning up for Harambee Stars and another for normal team matches, but he adds that “belief in rituals was mostly practised by players of the previous generation as today’s players hardly follow them.”

And do rituals really work? Motego says NO. “Winning depends on training, following the coach’s game plan and the players being on form. If they worked why don’t teams just sit back and wait for the day of the match?” he poses. “As a player I only believed in God and his ability to score, which was I was called ‘Super-Sub’ when I played for Harambee Stars,” says Motego.

But sometimes, it looks like superstition, witchcraft, magic — whatever you call it — works. Photojournalist Mohammed Amin recalls one juju man during the 2008 Cup of Nations in Ghana who would carry either two chickens or two guinea fowls during Ghana’s home matches.“Ghana would score two goals when he waved two guinea fowls and one goal when he carried one chicken,” says Amin, furnishing me with photos for good measure.

Superstitious beliefs aren’t just confined to these shores. One memorable incident Gachuhi witnessed was during the East and Central Club Championships at the City Stadium featuring Sudan’s El-Mereikh. As the players were getting on the pitch El-Mereikh centre-half threw what looked like pebbles, which fell into a particular shape and he seemed very happy. It was very brief and very few people noticed.

“When I later enquired I was told if the pebbles had fallen in any other pattern, the player could have withdrawn from the game. And he played first class football,” he recalls. Gachuhi also cites the 1994 Africa Cup Winners Cup return leg between Kenya Breweries and Congo’s Daring Club Motema Pembe at the Nyayo National Stadium. The Kenyan side had forced a draw in Kinsasha.

“Motema Pembe players arrived on the day of the match and were hostile to everybody. They beat Kenya Breweries 3-0. And one could see their fans, cheering with paraphernalia — fly whisks and gourds in what was not a routine dance.” Soccer rituals and superstitious beliefs it seems, are like being hooked on drugs.

‘HIV positive’ teacher seized for raping pupils

By  ELISHA OTIENO eotieno@ke.nationmedia.com and ABIUD OCHIENG’ aochieng@ke.nationmedia.comPosted  Thursday, May 19 2011 at 22:00

A  38-year old teacher believed to be HIV positive has been arrested for allegedly raping five girls in his school.

A 38-year old teacher believed to be HIV positive has been arrested for allegedly raping five girls in his school.

IN SUMMARY

  • The pupils, aged between 7 and 13, were reportedly defiled in turns

A 38-year old teacher believed to be HIV positive has been arrested for allegedly raping five girls in his school.

The girls, aged between 7 and 13, were reportedly defiled in turns by the teacher at Lidha Academy in Nyatike District, in the morning hours when other staff members and pupils were in their classes.

Police rescued the 38-year-old teacher from an angry mob that was baying for his blood, and locked him at Macalder police station.

According to acting school headteacher Joseph Ojijo, he received the information at around 11am when one of the girls told him the ordeal she had been through.

The teacher had been in the school for only two weeks after he was posted from a nearby school, said Mr Ojijo.

Nyatike District police boss Samuel Anampiu said the suspect would face defilement charges in court.

He said the teacher had been examined by doctors and established his HIV status.

According to Mr Anampiu, villagers rushed to the school upon hearing the cries of the pupils as the suspect executed his acts. They roughed him up then the police rescued and whisked him away to the police station.

The Teachers Service Commission said it would strike the teacher off their register if found guilty, according to spokesperson Nkatha Murungi.

Mr Murungi said the defiled girls were taken to hospital for medical treatment to prevent possible infection with the virus.

More than 600 teachers are facing disciplinary cases related to sexual harassment against school girls.

Mr Anampiu appealed to parents to take take their children to credible institutions where their safety would be guaranteed.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers condemned the act and asked its members to desist from such behaviour.

“The union will not condone unprofessional behaviour and if the allegation is true, let the law take its course,” acting secretary general David Okuta said.

The incident occurred last Friday.

Where belief in witchcraft refuses to die

Makueni was the first region in Ukambani to embrace Christianity — but for some, witchcraft still reigns supreme.

Christian conversions began more than 100 years ago with missionaries from Mombasa setting up camps in Kibwezi.

But in spite of the spread of Christianity the religion has failed to overtake completely the traditional beliefs.

“These are people who you will not find flocking to churches or mosques, but they are there alive and well”, said Mtito Andei town council chairman Festus Kyalo.

The traditionalists can be identified by their names. “They have nothing to do with Christian or Islamic names,” said Mr Kyalo.

Musembi Muema, 78, from Masongaleni in Kibwezi said he had never had a Christian or Muslim name for he does not subscribe to either of those faiths.

“I have never stepped foot on any of the religious bodies. As for my children, some are Christians, there is one who is a Muslim, and some are traditionalists”, he said.

His parents were the early settlers of Kyulu Hills before they were forced out by the British in the 1930s.

Mzee Muema said if he wanted to communicate with his God he simply went to a secluded place, “somewhere in the bush.”

And he went on: “I am not alone. We are many, especially of my age, and we have no regrets.”

The presence of witchcraft in Makueni is very much alive, just as it is in the counties of Machakos and Kitui.

Signboards announcing the services of traditional healers are common, even in small villages and trading centres.

Some of the most popular witchdoctors from the region remain the late Dr John Muia Kali from Salama and the late S.K Maingi from Machinery, Kibwezi who reigned supreme from Independence up to the early 1990s.

So famous were the witchdoctors that leaders seeking political office or other favours used to consult them for success.

A recent incident in neighbouring Machakos County saw two suspected thieves caught by magical powers when their stomachs reportedly started bulging after they raided people’s homes. Such incidents are not uncommon in Makueni County.

The presence of witchcraft is easy to detect.

Those who have visited witchdoctors display razor blade cuts on various parts of their bodies; others walk around carrying the paraphernalia associated with their beliefs.

“Believers in witchcraft normally have their homes treated – this usually involves a witchdoctor visiting the home at odd hours, going around the homestead either sprinkling the blood of some slaughtered animals or chickens and burying some concoctions within the homestead”, explained Anna Mutheu Ndunda, a famous traditional healer with a big clientele from the region.

She said this was believed to cushion any attack, be it physical or through remote control.

Ms Mutheu said confessed Christians and Muslims formed part of her clientele.

“Some of my clients don’t want to be identified but they are not small people,” she said, adding, “you will be surprised if you get their names.”

She went on: “On Sundays you see them in church leading proceedings, but by the end of the day they visit me and they leave with my concoctions.”

“The belief in witchcraft is rife in the region, in Makueni just like in other parts of Ukambani, we have Christians by day and traditionalists by night,” said the local Catholic bishop, the Rt Rev Martin Kivuva.

Dr Kivuva said the presence of signs guiding people to witchdoctors’ homes was a clear indication that Christianity and traditionalist witchcraft coexisted.

“Those who practise witchcraft are traditionalist and they are many,” said Bishop Kivuva.

“Witchdoctors are in business. They thrive because they have many clients. Unfortunately they don’t expose themselves when they seek their consultations,” he added.

Islamic preacher Imam Ali Anas said witchdoctors and witchcraft had remained part and parcel of mankind since time immemorial.

“They are forces that came into being to counter any good thing that God gave to mankind, both the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran talk about them and we should not be surprised to see the trade thriving”, he said.

Internet main tool for organised crime: Europol chief

The Internet has become a major tool in European organised crime, which as well as cybercrime uses it for drugs and human trafficking and money laundering, Europol’s top official said Wednesday.

Although cyber- and computer-related crime have always been around, there has been a marked increase over the last two years in criminal groups turning to the Web to commit crimes regarded as “more traditional”, Europol director Rob Wainwright said.

“Using the Internet has become much more mainstream,” Wainwright said at the release of the policing body’s bi-annual organised crime threat assessment (OCTA).

“It has now become the principle facilitator for organised crime.”

The OCTA report said: “In addition to the high-tech crimes of cybercrime, payment card fraud, the distribution of child abuse material and audio visual piracy, extensive use of the Internet now also underpins illicit drug synthesis, extraction and distribution.”

The Web was also extensively used to recruit human trafficking victims, facilitate illegal immigration, supply counterfeit commodities, trafficking endangered species and in many other criminal activities, the report said.

“It was also widely used as a secure communication and money laundering tool by criminals,” it added.

Organised crime groups derived more than 1.5 billion euros from payment card fraud in the EU, the report estimated.

Europol’s 37-page report looked at the development of organised crime over the last 24 months.

The report, which will go to justice and home affairs ministries around the EU, will help governments set crime-fighting priorities for the next two years, Wainwright said.

Residents decry influx of foreign beggars into Nakuru streets

 

There is an influx of beggars from Tanzania into the streets of Nakuru town.

Residents have raised fears the influx poses a security threat in the town.

Most of the beggars are disabled and residents suspect that they could have been brought in by a cartel engaged in human trafficking.

Former councillor Francis Karanja claimed that a cartel was behind the influx of Tanzanian beggars.

“There must be someone organising the entry of these foreign beggars into the town centre and it appears that they are being dropped at specific positions very early in the morning and picked up late in the evening,” said Mr Karanja.

He added: “We have noticed that unlike our ordinary beggars, those from Tanzania use similar cups and bowls to make it easier for their handlers to collect the proceeds at the end of the day.”

He accused security officials of colluding with unscrupulous individuals to let the beggars into the country.

Making a kill

“They do not appear capable of financing the entire transport cost and the minds behind this syndicate are making a kill from innocent hard working Kenyans,” he said.

A spot check by the Nation established that a number of beggars in the town were indeed from Tanzania.

Two of the beggars, a Ms Awinja and Mr Masanja told the Nation that they arrived in Nakuru in February.

Mr Masanja, 40, said he was from Bariadi district in Tanzania and arrived in Nairobi in February last year where he lived in Kariobangi slums until early last month when he moved to Nakuru.

“I came to Kenya on my own volition after getting reports of how others from my country got help in Kenya,” said the man.

Nakuru Municipal Council Mayor John Kitilit promised to intervene through the provincial administration.

“This is a very serious matter. For all I know, they could be in Nakuru illegally. I will talk to the police and have them conduct investigations,” said Mr Kitilit.

Nakuru police boss Johnstone Ipara promised to investigate the issue to determine the status of the beggars.

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