Notorious Kwekwe squad linked to Jacob Juma’s death
The story of Kwekwe Squad, the most notorious crack unit to ever have been formed in Kenya, is back in the spotlight after allegations that its officers shot dead businessman Jacob Juma.
In a twist of fate, the unit has become a classic case of the hunter becoming the hunted.
This week, while responding to claims by Cord leader Raila Odinga that Kwekwe officers killed Mr Juma, National Police Service Spokesperson George Kinoti said the squad does not even exist.
In its heyday, the squad was said to have been as good as other crack units of its kind in other countries, including the Bope of Brazil, Grupo Especial De Operaciones of Spain, Juglas of Colombia and the US Marshals Service.
Before disbandment, the squad left behind a legacy of murders, missing millions of shillings, scared businessmen, intimidated police officers, maimed suspects and lingering questions about hundreds of men who turned up dead after crossing the paths of the dreaded unit.
Before the unit was turned into an unofficial “cleaner squad” for the government, its members had been involved in responding to the Mungiki menace — a task they took on with uncommon zeal.
To the victims of the Mungiki sect, Kwekwe officers were legendary heroes.
To those they targeted, the Kwekwes were not only dishonourable members of the police force who should never have been law enforcement officers but a fearsome unit that executed its mandate ruthlessly.
For instance, investigations by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) connected Kwekwe Squad to almost 500 bodies deposited in various mortuaries around the country by the police between June and October 2007. Their victims included a police officer and two soldiers.
Between July 2002 and September 2008, the Oscar Foundation — an NGO — documented over 8,000 forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial executions, all linked to the squad.
The NGO’s founder, Oscar King’ara, and his associate, Paul Oulu, were themselves executed less than a kilometre from State House in broad daylight.
The gunmen were suspected to be Kwekwe Squad members.
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