Rabongo, a marketing and public relations consultant, is the managing director and founder of the marketing firm, Impulse Promotions. Two years ago, he was appointed NSSF managing trustee, but the board rejected his appointment.
According to Richard Tuta, an Israeli-trained security consultant, kidnappings are mostly carried out by close family friends or relatives, a view shared by Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue.
“It is very difficult for someone, especially in Kenya, to trail you for days and get to know your routine. Nine times out of ten, it’s a close family member or someone who knows a family very well who organise kidnappings or gives information to criminals,” said Tuta.
He advised parents never to fully trust anyone. “It’s irresponsible as a parent to come home with large quantities of money, in full view of your domestic staff and gardeners, yet you pay them peanuts. If you have a lot of money, keep it to your self,” warns Tuta. He said it is also important for parents to teach children to be cautious without filling them with fear.
“Teach your child to always be in a group, especially when heading home or waiting to be picked from school. Children should also be trained not to give information to strangers who chat with them on the Internet.
“They should basically never entertain strangers. Self defence also helps. Teach children that if a stranger grabs them, they scream loudly and hit him or her in sensitive parts like between the legs, on the shins, etc,” Tuta advised.
Police chief Kibue said safety of children lies with parents, house helps and the community they live in. He said parents should always monitor the whereabouts of their children when out of their sight.
“If a child is out playing, the parents need to know who they are with and where. They need to also coach their children on basic issues like their names and estates they live in. When a child is on his or her way to school or shop, he or she needs to have clear instructions on how they need to move there and back,” said Kibue.
He added that estates also need to come up with measures that can ensure safety of children living there. “It is good for neighbours to always know each other as well as their children.
But because most kidnappings are done by people known to the affected families, it becomes difficult for police to monitor each of them as we would with normal criminals. It is always friends, relatives or enemies,” Kibue said.
Between October and November, there have been nine publicised incidents of children from wealthy families being kidnapped, with ransom demands ranging from Sh5 million to Sh86 million.
They include the kidnap of 15-year-old Mahjan twins whose father owns the Mada Hotels chain. Detectives arrested nine people, including a former police officer, and rescued the twins. According to the National Crime Research Centre, Nairobi has up to 14 organised criminal gangs in informal settlements where policing is poor, that are involved in kidnappings. These include ‘Yes We Can’ in Kibera slums, J-10, Kamkunji Pressure Group, Siafu, Kibera Battalion and Nubians.
Others include Kamkunji Boys in Kamkunji area, Munyipi in Mathare, Super Power in Eastleigh, Kenya Youth Alliance, Taliban in Kayole and Dandora, Jeshi La Wazee in Kangemi, Kamjeshi in Eastlands, al Shabaab, Jeshi La Embakasi and Mungiki. The report indicated that the gangs also get funds through extortion, theft, robbery, politicians and selling stolen goods.