The events of February 25 are still fresh in Isaac Swila’s mind. Swila, a journalist, was kidnapped at 11.40am along Nairobi’s Kasarani-Mwiki Road in the company of his cousin.
The two had withdrawn money over the counter from a bank and were heading back home when a gang of four men accosted them.
They kidnapped, tortured and stole their items before releasing them somewhere near Kamiti prison. The matter is still unresolved by the police.
His story is shared by tens of other people in the city, where abductions are rising according to the Emerging Crimes: The Case of Kidnappings in Kenya report of 2017.
The survey captured in the Judiciary’s State of Administration of Justice annual report surveyed 20 counties.
Interestingly, the report notes that more people are being kidnapped by a relative or acquaintance – 989 respondents reported this, and the kidnaps are done by men.
Respondents in Nairobi reported having heard the highest number of kidnapping incidents, at 86 responses. Turkana was second at 78 and Kirinyaga third with 76.
Mandera (72) and Machakos (69) were fourth and fifth respectively, followed by Murang’a (60), Nyeri (58), Wajir (51) and Nakuru (50). Baringo, Bungoma and Laikipia counties had the fewest number of people admitting that they knew someone who had been kidnapped.
In Nairobi, most respondents (123) said they knew of cases of people being kidnapped by an acquaintance or relative.
Kirinyaga and Nyeri followed closely with 115 and 99 responses respectively. The fewest responses were recorded in Kwale and Bungoma (19 each), Wajir (17) and Baringo (16).
Kidnappings by an acquaintance mostly occurred in Nairobi, Kirinyaga, Machakos, Nyeri, Murang’a and Turkana. Lamu, Laikipia, Siaya, West Pokot, Kwale, Wajir and Baringo, also reported the cases, according to the report.
Nairobi also led in respondents who said they knew of kidnappings committed by family members.
The likeliest place to be kidnapped was at an ATM. In, Nairobi 80 respondents reported hearing of an incident of kidnapping near an ATM machine. They were followed by Nyeri and Kirinyaga (62), Machakos (59), Murang’a (47) and Nakuru (42).
The report also revealed an emerging worrying trend of virtual kidnappings.
While all other types of kidnappings usually involve an immediate abduction, virtual kidnapping entail an extortion scheme, tricks that are less likely to be discovered at first.
The report noted that criminals cause panic, making the victim act fast by making phone calls to parents and demand money to take care of the situation.
Nairobi led with such cases at 65 responses, followed by Nyeri (46), Kirinyaga (43), Mandera (33) and Murang’a (31).
The report recommended that there should be enhanced confidence and trust levels between security agencies and the public, vetting of police officers as well as former security agents.
Intensified community policing and creating public awareness with regards to this crime was also recommended as a strategy to curb kidnappings.