Residents relive horror as panga-wielding gangs return to Mombasa
The dreaded machete-wielding youth criminal gangs have re-emerged in Mombasa.
The gangs, which had been wiped out last year through a police operation, are causing havoc in Kisauni sub-county.
Police are fighting the gangs whose members are aged between 12 and 24 and are said to carry out the crimes while high on drugs.
In the last two months, two gangs, Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao, have resurfaced and have been terrorising Kisauni and Nyali residents.
Some have been using rickshaws and motorbikes to prey on innocent residents, especially in the town centre.
According to community policing officers in Kisauni, another gang called Piyo Piyo has also emerged. Not a day passes without some Likoni and Kisauni residents being stabbed.
On February 5, a gang of about 20 youth armed with metal rods and machetes stormed a funeral service in Mishomoroni and went on a stealing spree.
They attacked residents and shop owners, injuring at least six people. “I had my laptop at the shop. They went with it and some money. I just thank God they did not harm me,” Mr Erick Mulei, a shopkeeper.
Another victim, Jefferson Shungula, said the gang took his phone and cash. The teenagers cut him with pangas and left him for dead.
“I did not have a lot of money but they would not listen when I pleaded with them. I am a labourer. I am now living in fear for I don’t know when they will strike again,” Mr Shungula said.
Ms Annah Awour, who was also attacked that evening, has closed business. The gang stole her phone and money belonging to her sacco.
“They made away with Sh20,000 and my phone. I don’t know where to start. What pains me is that these youths are known here,” said Ms Awour who was afraid to have her photo taken.
On February 12, a Technical University of Mombasa worker and three other people were attacked by the gang in Barani and Hongera areas around 9.30pm.
Mr Mohammed Jilo was attacked outside his house in Mjambere ward. “The five attackers took my phone,” Mr Jilo, who was admitted to Jocham Hospital, said.
Security officials say the gangs have been operating in Soko Mjinga, Magogoni, Mishomoroni, Majengo Mapya, Barsheba and Mtopanga areas.
Other cases have been reported on Moi Avenue, the criminals targeting people coming from work at night.
Mishomoroni community chairman Joseph Deng’ea said the attacks have been rampant, adding that residents now hardly stay out past 8pm.
According to a reformed member of the gang, only identified as Mahseen, the gangsters attack people while on cannabis, and rohypnol, locally known as bugizi.
“When one is under the influence of these drugs, he can easily kill,” said the one-time ring leader of a gang known as Temeke.
He added that the teenagers mug people to get money for the drugs.
Last week, police shot dead three gang members in Kisauni. They were killed as they attacked residents, police said.
Haki Africa, a Human Rights group, accuses the security officers of laxity.
The group’s programme officer Francis Auma said the community must work with the police to curb crime.