Bella got discharged from Agha Khan Hospital Kisumu this afternoon, though she looked stable and out of danger she was visibly shaken and still carries with her the scars from an ordeal you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Bella is the latest victim (at least that I know of) of the rising crime wave that has hit the once peaceful city of Kisumu.
Two nights ago, thugs raided her house in the middle-class Migosi estate. They were not just there for money and valuables. They raped and stabbed her leaving her to die.
Her case is not unique anymore, stories like hers have been told over and over in Kisumu over the past two months.
Crime is probably something that we should expect, especially in a fast growing economy such as Kisumu. This however is not ordinary crime; the criminals intend to kill their victims after robbing them or inflicting serious bodily harm.
Just last Saturday, a man and his wife were brutally murdered on their way home from work.
Why would a thief want to kill his victim after robbing them? I thought the idea is to steal from me and let me go so that I can make more money for you to come back and steal!
When they started these people were only targeting M-Pesa agents, several were shot dead at night while they closed their shops and got robbed of their cash. Then the gangs moved to targeting people going home late in the evening or those who leave their houses early in the morning to work.
The gangs that were mostly armed with guns and pangas often used boda bodas to ferry them to and from their operations and when the residents raised alarm about it the police responded by banning night time use of boda bodas in Kisumu.
A special police unit was also trained and equipped with four wheel motorbikes than could access the narrowest of alleys in the slums where these criminals hide after committing crimes but sadly the special unit does not patrol Kisumu streets or estates at night.
Every night the gang strikes and they have a field day…during the day you will see the police patrolling Kisumu streets at the back of land cruisers but when night falls the residents are on their own.
The “motorbike squad” now uses their sophisticated equipment to harass illicit brew sellers and collect bribes all while residents continue to die like their lives are worthless.
The motorbike ban imposed by Kisumu County Commissioner Erastus Ekidor has become a cash cow for police officers. My boda boda guy called “Scoff” tells me they still operate at night but every time they get to a police roadblock they have to part with Sh.500.
That definitely mean that the gangs can still comfortably move around and cause death and destruction because our security apparatus are too greedy to care.
I use tuk tuks from work every evening, on my way home there is a roadblock at a place called “Nyamasaria” here the police are so shameless that they collect bribes of Sh.20 – No I did not say 20 while I meant 200! They stop every tuk tuk and all the driver has to do is give twenty shilling and they won’t even bother look at the passengers.
So our lives are just worth twenty shillings…it makes me sick most of the time.
The police are lazy that we all agree, but they are not the only problem.
You see Bella (mentioned at the onset) had neighbors but the thugs broke her door, got in, stole, took turns sexually assaulting her and stabbed her and all that while none of her neighbors came out to help!
In fact she started screaming when they were breaking her door and all she could see was her neighbors switching off their security lights.
Where is our humanity?
When did our neighbors’ problems stop being our own?
Bella’s sister who is a very close friend of mine moved her things from the house she got robbed in because there was no way she was going to live in the middle of those people who were willing to let her die.
Having a middle-class that does not care about what happens around them as long as they are comfortable is one of the biggest problems that we have as a nation.
We sincerely need a middle-class re-awakening.
Today you are safer living in a Kisumu slum that in the leafy suburbs because in the slums when one person screams the entire neighborhood will come out.
The security problem is further compounded by the fact that even the police are not just colluding with criminals, failing to do their job, or looking the other way.
Not once, not twice police officers have been arrested taking part in robberies and murders that have rocked the town.
The residents have been pushed to the wall and now they are saying that Bella’s story has to be the last such story.
They are raising their voices on mainstream media, on social media and on the streets.
Tomorrow they have organized a major demonstration demanding for action because they can no longer live in fear.
This is the first step towards recapturing the city from the marauding gang that is threatening to tear down the fabric that this city is made of.