Gone without trace: families in agony as 46 go missing
Some 46 people from the Coast have gone missing as the war on terror and criminal gangs intensifies. Human rights crusader-Haki Africa said the missing, who are from six Coast counties could have been abducted by security agencies.
“We have received so many complaints from various families blaming the security agencies especially the Kenya Defence Forces and the Police on the disappearances of their kinsmen.
We have recorded 46 cases of killings and disappearances of locals in the Coast region between January and July this year, “said Haki Africa’s executive director Hussein Khalid at a press conference in Mombasa on Wednesday.
The organisation gave the names of those why it believes were abducted by police but said 46 cannot be accounted for.
The regional police commander, Mr Noah Mwivanda, however denied that the police are involved, adding: “The work of the police is to protect life and property which we cannot go against. We are not involved in those cases whatsoever.”
Mr Mwivanda said claims of missing people were being spread by terror gang recruiters and that police were investigating individuals believed to be behind the reports.
“The Al Shabaab recruiters are doing this so that they can leave no trace when the youth leave for Somalia. This helps the youth when they return home because no one would suspect they had joined the terror groups,” he added.
But Haki Africa said the disappearances started in 2014 when the first and worst ever terror attack at the Coast was recorded in Mpeketoni, Lamu, leaving hundreds dead.
More people disappeared in 2015 when the multi-agency security operation to flush out Al-Shabaab militants from Boni forest dubbed ‘Linda Boni Operation’ was launched, said the organisation.
One of the cases involves Mohamed Abdalla Ali, 32, who went missing on the night of June 14.
Mr Ali, a resident of Witu in Lamu West was said to have been watching a World Cup match in one of the hotels in the town but could not be traced when the game was over.
Mr Ali, a Form Four leaver from Witu Secondary School is the last born in a family of five.
His father Abdalla Basalama, a retired AP senior Sergeant, said Ali completed his secondary education at Witu Secondary School and is the last born in a family of five.
According to Ali’s eldest sister Amina Abdalla, police have not been helpful despite numerous attempts by the family to involve them in the search.
“We have filed a missing person report at the Witu police station, Mokowe, Mpeketoni, Hindi as well as Lamu town police stations but nothing has been forthcoming. The way the police are distancing themselves from this issue makes us suspect that they know where he is or what happened to him. We need the police to come clear on this,” said Ms Abdalla.
According to Abdalla, the disappearance of her brother has weighed heavily on their father’s health which she said gets worse with each passing day that his son does not come home.
“My father was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure shortly after Ali disappeared and he has been getting worse with each passing day.
The only remedy will be when Ali comes back alive or dead. He will have closure,” said Ms Amina.
Another family is agonizing over the mysterious disappearance of their relative, a 43-year-old Mohamed Avukame Haroun.
Mr Haroun, a Malindi businessman who deals in property management and land, is said to have been abducted by men in a black Toyota Prado to an unknown destination.
Haroun’s elder brother, Bwanaheri Avukame Haroun said the father of two was bundled into the car by two armed men who approached him as he stood outside the Mombasa High Court on August 23, last year.
“We believe that those who took my brother are police officers since they had handcuffs and were armed with pistols. They roughed him up, bundled him into the car and drove away. Since then, my bother has never been seen. His phone has not also been going through,” said Mr Bwanaheri.
He said when the incident happened, his brother was following up on land issues involving the Manda Settlement Scheme in Lamu.
“Earlier, my brother had informed me that unknown people had called him that week and warned him to leave the issue of Manda lands. They even promised to give him money but he refused. He had told me that his life was in danger only for the incident to happen the following day. Let the government come clear on this since we believe our brother was taken away by state agents,” said Mr Bwanaheri.