Amina Mohamed traumatised by discovery of Chinese cyber crime network’

NAIROBI: Kenya has rejected a request by the Chinese government to have a team of investigators join local police to help unravel the mystery of the 77 people behind a cyber command centre discovered in Runda estate, Nairobi, last week.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed Tuesday said although the Kenya Government was engaging the Chinese embassy in Nairobi, the former would not incorporate sleuths from Beijing in the probe team.

“We are allowing local authorities to conduct an independent probe first,” Ms Mohammed said.

The CS told MPs that the Government was yet to come to terms with the discovery of such a large group in a residential area, who had operated for over 13 months undetected.

Ms Amina and her Information Communication and Technology counterpart Fred Matiang’i, and Criminal Investigations Department Director Ndegwa Muhoro visited the improvised centre last week.

“I am traumatised to learn that we can have a huge number of individuals in one compound and it escapes everyone. I am traumatised because such a huge number of individuals escaped the attention of the security people, the neighbours and even the landlord. Security is for all of us,” said Mohammed.

The Cabinet Secretary was appearing before the Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations. Wajir South MP Abdillahi Diriye wanted the CS to explain how the 77 Chinese ended up operating a radio station despite being on a “tourist visa”.

Mr Diriye also wanted to know whether the suspects had used the system to siphon money from bank accounts and mobile money transfer platforms.


Mohammed said the Chinese had arrived in the country on tourist visas but ended up getting a monthly renewal without stepping out of their Runda residence, where they operated among other things a radio station.

“It never happens anywhere that tourist visas are extended. It doesn’t happen anywhere and it cannot happen here. We are engaging their embassy to know how people who came here on one-month tourist visas ended up getting continuous renewals without visiting any national parks or tourist attractions,” she said, adding it was standard practice that people on tourist visas must return home on expiry of the 30-day period.

“Such visitors must go back to their countries on expiry of the visa. Of course, they can come back in a different capacity, but their visa cannot be extended,” she said.

She refused to discuss the command centre, warning members of the committee that the matter was in court and discussing it could jeopardise investigations.

“We have not established whether the target was our Government or any other government outside our borders, but we are taking this matter very seriously,” she said.

Last week, the 77 Chinese were charged in connection with the activities of the cyber centre that was discovered in Runda.

The centre is said to be capable of disrupting communication systems in the country and infiltrating bank accounts, M-Pesa accounts and even automatic teller machines.

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