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Boys lured into gangs that give city residents sleepless nights

Two suspected gang members flaunt wads of cash. The gang members post pictures of guns and cash on their Facebook pages to lure other youth into crime. PHOTO | COURTESY

They are young flamboyant police-taunting boys who post pictures of bundles of money and bullet wounds from their dangerous adventures in the dark world of crime.

These are today’s Nairobi criminal gangs that pose with illegal guns and send heroic messages about their colleagues who have been killed by police.

They use Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to give alerts and warnings about plain-clothes police officers in specific areas, complete with their pictures.

In some cases, they use these groups to fundraise for police bribes, mortuary fees for their “fallen soldiers” and medical bills for those wounded during shoot-outs or by mobs.

These are the gangs that have held the city in a grip of fear, terrorising them by carjacking, mugging, shoplifting and even raping residents in parts of Dandora, Kayole, Kariobangi, Huruma, Mathare and other parts of Eastlands.

At the slightest provocation, they will send you to an early grave, just to get your money, phone or wallet.

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On March 28, six armed people, believed to be members of a gang, shot and killed an administration police officer who was in a matatu, heading to his house at the Eastleigh Police Patrol Base.

The officer, who was unarmed, was wearing his official jungle green trousers but his official jacket was in a polythene bag. He was wearing a casual black jacket. He had finished his shift and was heading to the house at 8pm, when the six-member gang hijacked the vehicle he was in.

He was in the second last seat of the vehicle. The carjackers realised that he was a police officer and shot him in the head, as other passengers watched. He died on the spot.

INJURED ANOTHER OFFICER

Police say, the six were part of a gang that also injured another officer at Mlango Kubwa and took his gun. The officer is still in hospital.

Late last year, another officer was killed by the same gang at the Kariobangi roundabout, as he tried to rescue a man who had been shot after being carjacked by the gang.

On Saturday this week, a video emerged of a man purported to be a plain-clothes police officer shooting a suspect dead, angering and pleasing Kenyans in equal part.

In the video, a man lies in a pool of blood, as the officer, together with two others, hold another young man with whom they are seen arguing. A few minutes later, gunshots are heard and the video goes out of focus.

Later, the shooting resumes and the suspect is on the ground, with the officer stepping on his back. He runs out of bullets and asks another officer for his firearm. He then uses it to spray the young man with more bullets.

When the suspect raises his head, the officer finishes him off with a bullet to the head. A total of 12 shots are heard on the entire amateur video.

The young suspect’s pictures immediately emerged online, with many businessmen and residents of Eastleigh saying they knew him. Most of them said he was a member of one of the most dreaded gangs in Eastleigh — Superpower.

In one of the pictures, he is seen wearing a camouflage jacket, purported to belong to a murdered policeman. The Nation has not authenticated this claim.

SIGNATURE LOOKS

A police officer familiar with the gangs said Superpower, based in Eastleigh and Dandora, Gaza Boys (Kayole), the 40 Brothers (City Centre), Usiku Sacco (Umoja), Msako Empire (Huruma) and others, have signature looks.

“They put on heavy neck jewellery and have several conspicuous rings on their fingers, a certain design of caps, T-shirts and sagging skinny jeans. They prefer putting on two pairs of jeans trousers, to help them secure their firearms,” he said.

He said the gangs work with bank and forex bureau employees who tip them on withdrawals of huge sums of money, before they trail their targets. They also work with supermarket employees for the purpose of robbing colleagues sent to deposit money in banks.

“They have closed Facebook groups going by names such as Mauki Family, Postmore Empire, Doughty Family, Cosovo Family, Msako Empire, Usiku Sacco and others,” said the officer, revealing the extent to which these gangs have gone in using technology to organise their criminal activities. It is not clear, however, whether all the members of the Facebook pages belong to the violent gangs. Social media has enabled the gangs to lure and recruit more youth by flaunting their flashy lifestyles.

The online groups, he said, have, however, helped the police to arrest some of the members of these gangs with the help of the National Intelligence Service.

“It is hard for few officers to crack down on these gangs because they live at the heart of slums, where there are so many pistols in the wrong hands. You cannot even get there before you are shot. This one requires a massive disarmament operation involving several squads,” said the officer.

POST PICTURES OF VICTIMS

A visit to some of the groups’ pages revealed a shocking confidence exuded by the gang members. Some of them post pictures of their victims. In one of the posts, they displayed the photo of a Sunday school music teacher who was shot dead in Kariobangi as he left the ABC church in Korogocho on Sunday night.

Even more shocking is the fact that they display pictures of fellow gang members killed by police with captions such as “RIP Fallen Soldier”, “Gone too Soon” “You Only Live Once, Yolo” and others. Some of them give testimonies of how they escaped from the “Blue Boys” (police), and “Survived by the Grace of God”.

A recently leaked WhatsApp conversation between intelligence and police officers indicates that the gang, which is made up of about 40 young boys, has a leader who is assisted by a woman suspected to be the daughter of former most wanted gangster, Edward Shimoli. In the conversation, the undercover officers named a “physically challenged man” who lives in Kinyago and in Dandora as the tinsmith crafting homemade guns for the youth, but described him as “slippery”.

: nation.co.ke

 

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