How Kidero’s askaris are killing and injuring hawkers
On one of the beds at Ward 6C at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Wambua Manga counts time while lying in a supine position, his plastered left foot hoisted by a sling attached to the ceiling.
It is now a month since the hawker was taken to the country’s largest referral hospital by Good Samaritans.
It was September 13 and he had passed out due to the pain caused by a broken shin bone, internal injuries, fractured ribs and a mob-style beating.
He woke up four days later.
“They grabbed me and started battering with clubs and knives as one of them repeatedly kicked my lower leg with his boots,” he says of his attackers.
“The last thing I remember hearing was ‘wewe hakuna mahali tunakupeleka, tutakumaliza hapa’ (We are not taking you anywhere, we will kill you here),” he recalls.
Ruth Waithera, a hawker, who witnessed the incident said they were selling their wares on the pavements of Tom Mboya Street when there was sudden commotion.
“It usually happens at any time of day or night. All hawkers suddenly fled in one direction and I joined them and paused after a short while as we usually do because the City Council askaris hardly put up a chase for long, they arrest two or three hawkers who are unlucky and move on,” she says.
On this day, however, Ms Waithera noticed someone had been surrounded and was being beaten up.
“One of them kept stabbing him as he shouted that he was not a hawker,” she says.
“After some time, the crowd that had gathered intervened and the askaris got in their van and drove off leaving him for dead,” she says.
Mr Wambua is lucky to have survived to tell the tale.
As Nairobi increasingly gets swarmed by hawkers, the county government askaris, who have had perennial run-ins with them, appear to have taken the conflict to a whole new level.
Goons purported to be working for the City Inspectorate are on the loose robbing, assaulting, stabbing and maiming hawkers in the name of maintaining law and order.
TRAIL OF DEATH
The goons, who the Nation has established move around in county government vehicles sometimes escorted by regular policemen, have left a trail of death and permanent injuries on hawkers who don’t bribe them.
They act with impunity, with the police seemingly helpless against them.
In the past two years, Nation has established that at least eight deaths are linked to the goons whose impunity appears to be protected by top officials in City Hall.
Many more have survived with serious injuries and their attempts to get justice are blocked by intimidation, threats and police officers unwilling to act.
Duncan Wachira is another victim of the rogue askaris. He was selling clothes along River Road on July 18 when the askaris cornered him.
He had just opened shop around 4.30pm to cash in on the high traffic of people leaving work when they suddenly appeared.
“They clobbered me with metal bars all over and when a crowd that had gathered intervened, they forced me into their vehicle and drove off,” he says.
He continues: “After doing rounds in town for some time, they dumped me in an alley along Nyambene Road minus my phone and the money I had made that day,” he says.
The attack left him with a broken right arm and a broken finger on his right hand.
He is still undergoing physiotherapy to enable him to use his finger.
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