Friday, June 21, 2024

Slum killings spark clashes, tension in Nairobi

A teargas is used to disperse protesting youths at Baba Dogo area in Nairobi on November 19, 2017 following the killings of five people. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Sections of Nairobi were tense overnight after a day of violent protests following the killing of five people on Saturday night.

The motive of the killings was unclear, as well was the identity of the gang that carried them out, although there were claims by residents, opposition politicians and on social media that Mungiki, the outlawed gang, was involved.

Police said they were treating the killings as criminal acts and not ethnic clashes, but with the country on edge over heated politics, few are making the distinction between the two.


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Three of the victims were hacked to death by an armed gang shortly after 4am Sunday morning in the city’s Baba Dogo area.

The fourth man — a watchman — was shot dead, apparently by the same gang, reportedly as he pleaded with them to stop attacking residents.

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Two of the victims — a man and a woman — were identified by residents as Hores Onyango and Carol Otude, while the third victim was only identified as Obiero. The identity of the watchman is yet to be revealed.

The fifth man was found dead with stab wounds in Mathare North, but it is not clear whether his death is linked to the other four in Baba Dogo.

Some Baba Dogo residents said they had been attacked by unknown people whom they said raided the expansive slum on Saturday evening. Others alleged that the victims were dragged from their houses at night and maimed by the assailants.

After the dawn attack, they said, police officers who responded to calls by the residents shot and injured two more people as they tried to control a crowd.


“When they came here, several people had gathered and they were claiming that the people had been killed by the outlawed sect members (Mungiki),” a resident, Consolata Wabire, said.

She said demonstrations erupted in the morning as residents decried the failure of police to protect them. They blocked Outering Road between Baba Dogo and the Kariobangi Roundabout,

By 9am, the bodies of the four had not been removed from the scene as residents prevented the police from doing so, until Nasa leaders and the media arrived at the scene.

Police on Sunday fought off claims that the killings was ethnically motivated.

Nairobi police boss Japheth Koome said although some political leaders are on their watch for inciting communities, especially those in informal settlements, the killings were of a “criminal nature”.

According to the police, the bodies had injuries which appeared to have been inflicted with blunt objects.

“Murder has been committed but it has nothing to do with ethnic clashes. We are probing the killings and are confident that whoever has committed the offence will be arrested and taken to court,” Mr Koome said at a press briefing in his office.

Security patrols in Mathare, Kariobangi, Baba Dogo and other neighbouring estates were intensified following the crime, with police reassuring residents that the city was calm.


Mr Koome accused unnamed politicians of inciting locals against some communities, saying that is likely to lead to violence in volatile places.

“Some are even inciting the people not to pay rent and we are therefore engaging the landlords and tenants because it is causing tension in the city,” he said.

On the Supreme Court ruling expected today, Mr Koome said more officers will be deployed to manage security.

By Sunday evening, police were still trying to restore calm in Mathare Area Four following protests over the murder of the four.

Outering Road was rendered impassable for the better part of the day, with occasional gunfire and bursts of teargas.

Nasa leader Raila Odinga, accompanied by opposition MPs, visited the area and addressed the protesters. But even as the leaders were giving their speeches, youth attacked motorists, seized a motorcycle, chased away its owner, and burnt it.

“I had dropped a client and I was heading back to Kariobangi,” the rider, Mr Charles Gakinya, said. “When I reached here I was accosted by a huge crowd. One of the people asked me to stop and took away the key. He then asked me to leave the motorcycle and go away.”


He said the crowd hurled stones at him as he left the area, hurting his left eye and his head.

“I had only used the motorcycle for five months and I have not even finished paying the loan I took to buy it. I do not understand why I was attacked,” he lamented.

During the fracas, Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch suffered injuries on the leg. He was treated at Nairobi Hospital.

Earlier, there were reports of protests in the adjacent estates of Dandora and Kayole, but calm was restored.

In Kawangware, tension was slowly building up, particularly in the Congo area, as two groups of youth taunted one another.

Law enforcement officers, however, kept vigil to prevent violence. At one point, police had to use teargas to disperse the youths.

In Kibera, tension was high, with sporadic cases of looting by youths. Police engaged the youths who said they were protesting the killings in Baba Dogo.

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