Kisumu residents, particularly Kibuye have their own way of administering justice. Just weeks after Nyalenda (yet another estate in Kisumu) residents beat up rogue cops to a pulp for soliciting bribes, it has now become apparent that crime suspects in Kisumu, and various parts of Kenya do face punishment by civilians. The government condemns such a response as ‘mob injustice’. Case in point is Narok, last evening where a young man in his mid twenties was mobbed to death for attempting to steal a mobile phone. Such is the fate of one Anderson Ayal, a 30 year old man currently nursing tissue and flesh injuries at the Kisumu County Hospital, formerly the Kisumu district hospital.
Yesterday afternoon at around 3.00 PM, Anderson Ayal was caught by an angry mob within what was formerly the Kibuye market as he attempted to lift merchandise from a mini supermarket. His reputation in the area is that of a wayward hooligan and is suspected to be responsible for several muggings in the area. He has allegedly been warned but the angry residents say that he refused to listen. Upon being caught up with, he was first beaten senseless before the idea to amputate his left hand struck the traders. By the time officers said to have been from the Police Dog unit in Kibuye arrived, Anderson was unconscious having lost a lot of blood he was rushed to the hospital for treatment pending his arraignment in court.
Cases of theft in Kisumu have risen given the prevailing economic situation and this has caused traders and residents to invest heavily in security.
The local security men are said to collude with the thieves to plot heists and most people hire people from the Maasai community who they say are fearless and trustworthy albeit their expensive rates. It is now becoming clear that amputation of a suspected thief’s limbs is quite normal in Kisumu.
Another casualty of such an experience is Morris* known popularly by the name “soja” whose left foot was hacked off sometime in February having been nabbed with his neighbour’s goat on his way to the Market. Morris put black dye on the brown goat to disguise his appearance but did not do so well as the owner recognized the rope he had used to tether the goat on the day it was stolen and called for help.
Just a stone throw away from Soja’s residence in Lumumba estate we found another young man on a wheelchair aged not more than twenty. He was very generous with his experience. He is now reformed, or so he says and is even a youth pastor at a local church. His crime, attempting to rob a local restaurant while the owner went for Friday noon prayers at the mosque. “I broke the door and went straight to the counter where they keep cash,” recalls the young man “I smashed the safe box and seized all the cash inside. I thought it was a lucky night for me but apparently my luck had ran out. As soon as I stepped outside, I was instantly surrounded by five men, also equipped with long, sharp-edged machetes. It was well-planned. They knew I was coming and that is why they waited silently for me to finish” Ishmael. He said they even asked him which limb he wanted them to chop off as he begged them for mercy. When he failed to say which one, they decided to chop off his foot from the ankle.
The men had been hired by the owner of the restaurant to protect it due to the rising crime rate in Manyatta. Within a blink of an eye, the five men had served their own form of “justice” – no need for police or courts to get involved. Crime is a major problem in Kisumu, a seafood rich area where residents depend largely on small business to make a living. “If we take them to the police, they are bailed out for a small amount of money and they continue stealing. But if we give justice to them, they reform and become good men,” said a local shop owner in Kibuye. Aggrieved residents are often denied justice due to collusion between the authorities and perpetrators they say. Their supposed protectors such as the police often collude with perpetrators to interfere with case files or evidence. Instant justice has been necessitated by the lousy nature of our judicial system. “Missing an arm is a symbol of my past life; everyone will know that I lost it due to robbery,” says Morris* who is unable to sufficiently fend for himself and is now left at the mercy of relatives.
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