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Terror attacks expose threat posed by neighbours

Do you know your neighbours well enough to realise whether something horrible is happening in their house? Call them if you need help? To trust that they’d put themselves at risk to help you? Do you even know what they do?

Most city residents do not know their neighbours and what they do.

It is often claimed that offices have replaced our residences as we’re now more likely to befriend co-workers than neighbours, because busy careers are limiting opportunities for socialising.

Recently, a landlord in Umoja was fined Sh500,000 for sheltering about 40 Ethiopians in his flat while his caretaker was fined Sh50,000.

The Ethiopians were believed to be en route to South Africa.

Shocked

“There was a two bedroomed house that was occupied by two Somali men. But I was shocked to learn that there were more men in that house,” said Samuel Mwangi, a caretaker in an adjacent flat.

He said this came to light when anti-terrorism police officers raided the flat and arrested the illegal foreigners.

“I always thought they (the two Somalis) sold electronics on Luthuli Avenue because I once bought a DVD player from them. Little did I know that they were part of a human trafficking ring that operated in Kenya and South Africa,” he added. 

Fredrick Odongo, a neighbour said the house was always locked but there were two young men who had access to it. 

“The young men always carried a bag which we later learned contained food for the Ethiopians. We were shocked when police came here with a lorry and only then did we realise that the house had other occupants,” he said. 

When Timothy Kimboki rented out his four bedroomed house in Karen, little did he know that he would have a run in with the police.

His agent, Moses Ocholla, said that when the tenant approached him for the house, he was willing to pay three months deposit and rent.

“The total amount was Sh180,000 which he paid without a fuss. After that, he always paid rent by cheque even four months in advance. This was normal to us because most expatriates, like him, preferred that kind of arrangement,” said Mr Kimbo.

Get visitors

But the caretaker noticed something unusual. The tenant was always at home and received visitors, and when he told his boss, he took no action.

“One day the caretaker called me at 9pm telling me that anti-narcotic police were at the tenant’s house and that he was not around. Upon inspection, the officers found a drug haul in the house and that is when it dawned on us that he was a drug dealer,” said Mr Kimboki.

He said the tenant has never returned to get his property including a car.

“I am now smarter. I do due diligence on all my tenants. I always request them to give me a copy of their employer’s letter or even an introduction letter from the employer. This is the only way to weed out criminals because it almost cost me with the authorities,” he added.

Last year, when terrorism suspects were gunned down near Githurai Kimbo Primary, residents and the landlord were shocked because they knew little about them. Residents said they knew the suspect’s wife only as Mrs Salim. 

The same story was replayed recently in Eastleigh when a supposed madrassa lesson turned tragic after a home-made bomb exploded killing one person as it was being assembled.

The neighbours could not name anyone who lived in that house. 

Often when a neighbour is arrested, gunned down, found in an illegal activity, most people interviewed always give a clueless picture of what they did to make a living.