Mystery deepens over ‘Hessy’ in Facebook war against gangs
A character suspected to be an undercover policeman is sending shivers down the spines of Nairobi’s most notorious criminals by posting chilling warnings before the alleged gangsters are executed.
Known variously as “Hessy wa Kayole”, “Hessy wa Huruma”, “Hessy wa Dandora”, “Hessy wa Eastlando”, depending on the location of the criminal he is preying on, the real identity of the shadowy character remains a mystery even within the police service.
“Hessy’s” activities first came to light after a plain clothes police officer was caught on video killing a young suspect in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate. On social media, “Hessy” uses a frozen picture of this incident as his profile picture and identity.
Before this particular video went viral, “Hessy” was nothing more than a Facebook user whose posts portrayed the character as an undercover police officer determined to track down and kill any suspected criminal.
“Hessy” posts his warnings to several Facebook pages he runs, detailing his targets’ identities; complete with clear pictures, where they come from, their relations as well as their previous crimes.
He warns them, not once, not twice but several times in chilling public posts on social media, in a language they understand most — Sheng. His favourite tagline: “Utajua Hujui.” (You will know that you are not smart.)
He is then thought to go after them and shoot them dead, take pictures and then post them — as graphic as they are — on Facebook and Twitter. Then the tagline in the caption changes to “Amejua hajui.” (He now knows he is not smart.)
And true to his words, the bloody pictures of his alleged targets’ bodies are soon all over social media, mostly earning praise from followers.
The most famous of the suspects, Clare Njoki, 18, who has in recent media reports been referred to as “Nairobi’s prettiest gangster”, was buried on Thursday at her home in Kambirwa Village in Murang’a.
Clare was shot dead at 3.30 am on May 9 in Chokaa area of Ruai after she was caught allegedly robbing members of the public while in the company of three men. Police say a Beretta Pistol with six rounds of ammunition was recovered on her.
After Clare’s killing, Hessy posted on Facebook pages, “Kayole Crime Free” and “Dandora Crime Free”: “Hayawi hayawi huwa Clea Adi Vybz mnakumbuka nkikimpea warning awache wizi na bwanake mwanii???? (Cleah Adi Vybz you remember I warned her to stop crime with her husband Mwanii?). Rot in hell stupid woman,” Hessy wa Kayole wrot.
He was referring to a post he made in a Facebook page called “Dandora Love People” in March this year, where he warned the woman, and others that the law would catch up with them.
“Sabrina Hassan, Mungu alikuokoa (Sabrina Hassan, God saved you,)” he said in the post posted on Facebook pages, “Kayole Crime Free” and “Dandora Crime Free” as he warned another female suspect.
Since Clare’s death, Hessy has been warning Mwanii, her husband, that he will surely die if he does not surrender to the police or reform.
In one of the posts about Mwanii (whose real name is Mwaniki) Hessy warns: “Now Mwanii and Teddy kesho gava inachora masanse ten thao Kenya mzima. Unadhani utauwa wote? (Mwanii and Teddy, the government will employ ten thousand police officers across the whole country. Do you think you will kill all of them?), your gods are against you and your end is nearing. Enjoy while it lasts.”
He went ahead to list other suspects using their nicknames Farouk, Wagura, Mato wa Ngombe, Njoru, Stepper, Collo, Capacitor, Ombati, Ngacho, Jimmy, Junior, Sherii, Damba, Barunje, Reagan, Koffi, Shoka, who have either been felled by police bullets, arrested, or killed by accomplices after deals gone sour.
“Collo”, he revealed, was killed by Mwanii who was his best friend, after he discovered that he had an affair with Clare.
Police in Nairobi have profiled Mwanii as one of the most dangerous, elusive and heavily armed robbers. They also suspect that he once served in the General Service Unit (GSU) and has friends who are still serving in the force and who keep him up-to-date with police operations.
He is profiled as an arrogant, trigger happy gangster who lures young boys to conduct robberies with him or on his behalf, using guns that have been stolen from police officers.
He is also said to be using women to help him carry guns, smuggle food supplies to him in his hideouts and seduce and lure police officers into his trap, before he kills them or snatches their guns.
Apart from Mwanii, Hessy has profiled other suspects in the Facebook accounts.
On Wednesday, he posted a picture of a suspected gangster who had been shot in Soweto, Kayole. A homemade pistol and some stolen items were recovered from him.
He also posted another one: “Kayole patanisho. Kujeni mtambue boi wenu. Amejua hajui,”
And a warning to another suspected gangster, “Peter (full name withheld) aka Karish mwalimu. Mathake anauza githeri pale Mihango. Kijana anahangaisha raia ile mbaya. Utajua hujui.”
Speculation is rife that “Hessy” is actually not one, but a group of police officers operating in parts of Nairobi, who are changing the tactics of fighting crime.
And even when the crime situation reports sent to Vigilance House every morning state categorically that the suspects gunned down in some instances were not identified, Hessy posts their names complete with photos. This has given credence to claims of the character’s links with the police.
On Wednesday, when three suspects were gunned down within Muoroto slums in Soweto, Kayole, the report sent to police headquarters did not give their names. But “Hessy” gave their identities, with a review of a warning he posted to two of them on May 5, warning them to shun crime.
This was after they were suspected of shooting and injuring an Administration Police Constable, Kennedy Nkune, attached to a State House Administrative Secretary, before stealing his Ceska Pistol loaded with 12 rounds of ammunition.
In another incident, “Hessy” says in a caption of yet another graphic picture, “Morning, I remember warning this guy by the name Joseph (surname withheld) after he disappeared with passenger’s money in one of the Dandora matatus.”
The Sunday Nation has reported a total of 23 deaths of suspects from police shootings in Dandora and Kayole in May alone.
In one response to a Twitter user on Thursday, “Hessy” sought to clarify his identity thus: “#Hessy is a legion of community based policing members who are taking crime fighting to another level.”
But Nairobi County Police Commander, Japhet Koome disowned the character. He said no police officer fights crime on social media.
“These are gangsters. Police officers do not conduct their operations on social media,” he said.
When asked whether they were investigating the posts, Mr Koome said no complaint had been launched by any member of the public.
And even as Human Rights defenders said the trend has to be contained before it gets out of hand, members of the public seem to agree with “Hessy’s” strategy with a great percentage of the over 200,000 members of the groups applauding them.
“The problem with such a strategy is that it is communicating a message of criminality to the public. We have a criminal justice system in this country which stipulates clearly that someone is innocent until proven guilty,” Independent Medico Legal Unit Director, Peter Kiama said and asked the police to investigate the administrators of the pages through the Cyber Crime Investigation Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Deputy Director, George Morara said the commission had been meeting to discuss the trend, adding that it was difficult to make any conclusive comment at the moment.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) on its part said it was aware of several social media handles purportedly authored and maintained by police officers.
“IPOA will endeavour to establish firstly if indeed the owners and authors of those social media handles are police officers and if they have adopted social media as a tool of perpetrating extrajudicial activity,” IPOA head of Communications, Dennis Oketch said.
But a police officer who spoke to the Sunday Nation said the police have been put in dilemma by the law.
“I do not know who runs those accounts but I feel if it is truly done by police then it is a survival tactic because when we arrest these boys, the court releases them on bond. Once they are out, they will want to raise money to repay whoever paid their bond and to also survive. What happens is that they use all means to accomplish that, including eliminating police officers and killing members of the public at the slightest provocation,” the officer said.