This is the agony of a Mother in Eastleigh.“I sent my son to the supermarket only to hear he was caught and arrested at Pangani Police station” said Sahara Hassan, a resident in Eastleigh.
The police themselves frequently carry out massive swoops – arresting anyone who looks like a Somali.
Recently after a thorough check on daily police swoop in Eastleigh, a reader of my blog wrote the following:
"It is very unfortunate and discriminatory to subject all somali people intimidation and unjustifiable harassment by security forces under the pretext of fighting insecurity and ensuring security yet all they are after is to loot and collect bribe from Somali people irrespective of whether is a citizen, refugee or criminal/alshabab member as long as he or she is vulnerable to intimidation and fear which can cause him or her pay out for his/her freedom!!.
In the context of this unconstitutional and illegal misconduct of govt security forces, one can clearly foresee and conclude that insecurity threat the country face is from within the country security institutions and not from external/outside factors. The illegal immigrants living within the country came through either road, air or sea manned by various government officers and due to the failure to perform their work as stipulated by their term of reference created this disorder and threat faced by the country yet they earn their monthly pay from the taxpayers pocket!! Now that their act of omission and commission became a real monster that have caused death and destruction to their innocent citizens and others, they now came up with unpopular and nonviable security measures to further pursue the mass looting and bribe collection under the cover of ensuring security and stability laced with public opinion manipulation to divert their attention and won their unlimited support!!
This is absolutely misplaced sensitive priority and immediate intervention and wisdom is needed to tackle and resolve the threat of insecurity both in short and long term period the country and public face because the current measures and strategy will not only further the level of insecurity but will sow the seed of division, hatred and mistrust among the people of the country which is not good for the country stability, development and prosperity. The leadership of the country must approach the insecurity threat and other multi societal, religious and cultural problems with wisdom, all inclusive and consultative solution to promote team work, unity and harmony in the country.
The Security and Stability of our Nation(Kenya) is every one responsibility including the foreigners and visitors living or staying few days in the country because insecurity affect the life and property of everybody so let us promote and contribute the country stability and security through unity and teamwork. Let us remain patience and safeguard the spirit of nationhood and unity with justice and fairness as our strong shield."
EASTLEIGH - LITTLE MOGADISHU
Call it "the city within a city," "Mogadishu ndogo (The Small Mogadishu)" or whatever name, Eastleigh district in the Kenya capital city of Nairobi is without doubt the most vibrant and budding commercial hub in Eastern Africa, generating billions of shillings in taxes remittance to the local and central governments of Kenya daily. The area is inhabited by Somalis, both of Kenya and Somalia(The refugees).
The area is swiftly growing and investors have found it an apt destination for their money. Hundreds of buildings are under construction, others superbly furnished. Commercialists mainly of the Somali ethnic community have enthusiastically dominated the estate in its entirety. Moreover, despite the trouble met by the Kenyan-Somalis and Somalis in Kenya, they endeavor to engage in an exceptional profitable and productive commerce. Insecurity also threatens to scare away business people. Entrepreneurs normally fall victim of daytime robbery while the security agencies appear less concerned. Many were killed at the doorstep of their business premises by unknown assailants.
However, the picture is different at Night, The Resident, majority of Somali ethic group tgether with other minorities, Boranas, Oromos, Ethiopians are constantly under police harrasment and arrests especially at night. Residents sight police harassment as a major setback to potential investors in Eastleigh.
“They demand bribes as an exchange for their freedom” says a resident who opted to remain anonymous.
The police regularly conduct impromptu swoop in the area rounding up people they claim are illegal immigrants. During such exercises even Kenyan citizens of Somali ethnicity are caught their possession of the nationality cards notwithstanding.
Due to the dominance by the ethnic Somali community, Eastleigh is seen by many as a sanctuary for Somali pirates and Islamist extremists like Al Shabaab and other Al-Qaeda affiliated groups. Many have the notion that monies received during hijacking of ships at the Somali coast finds its way here as commercial investment. Police officers especially after dark, immediately round up Somalis on the pretext of insecurity, membership to gang groups or of being terrorists.
Then, it is understood some knife-wielding gang, known as Superpower, has also added salt to the injury. They are said to be attacking businesses and individuals with impunity— mostly at dawn and dusk and Police are after them. When the police catch someone, They will ask him/her to give "kitu kidogo" or accuse them as "alledged" members of this group. This makes the victim to pay someone for his release and this method has prompted even media entities to call easleigh as an ATM(Automated Teller Machine), a situation where residents are caught and pay the police some money.
Tracing the origin of the The superpower's dreaded criminals, Starehe CID boss Ndumba says that a few years ago a group of wealthy business owners in Eastleigh created a vigilante to provide protection. But the businessmen later decided to withdraw their financial support for fear of being accused of financing a terrorist group. This was after a series of bombings in Eastleigh since 2011. It is yet unclear if Superpower has links to terrorists like Al Shabaab.
His arguments are echoed by Eastleigh North chief Paul Ngugi, who in an earlier interview with The Nairobian said Somali business leaders are thought to have bankrolled the gang. But like the Frankenstein monster, it has acquired a life of its own and turned on its creators. Today, according to the police, most complaints lodged against the gang are from the business community.
The police has confirmed that a major pending operation against the gang is already being conducted — a position Nairobi County police boss Benson Kibue seemed to confirm, even though he declined to give details. “Something major will be done, just wait,” said Kibue and we don't know if this is what is causing grief to the residents. The crackdown and harassment of Somalis in Eastleigh has already damaged an economy that is worth "billions of dollars" to Kenya, said Farah, the lecturer at Nairobi University.
"Kenya's government is going overboard," he said. "These security concerns mean they're undertaking a relocation that is illegal, won't solve the problem, will alienate refugees and rights activists. And they're going to lose money."
Police are raiding even matatus without neccesarily following procedures. If you are a Somali, even a Kenyan Somali, with an official Identification document(ID) is arrested, and is told to pay some few money to secure his release or else, he/she will be an "alledged" Superpower and taken to custody.
Recently, nearly 50 aliens were arrested in a police swoop in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area in which the Eastleigh North County Rep Osman Adow, said has become a norm. The County representative alleged that police officers demanded up to Sh 30,000 to free those arrested. Starehe police commander Samuel Anmpiu denied the claims adding that any one caught would be dismissed.
“Any officer found to be taking bribes and wrongfully arresting innocent Kenyans will be dealt with,” he said.
This is the agony of a Mother in Eastleigh.
“I sent my son to the supermarket only to hear he was caught and arrested at Pangani Police station” said Sahara Hassan, a resident in Eastleigh. A big number of Somali refugees live in Eastleigh.
But, Wasia Masitsa, a lawyer working with Kituo cha Sheria, which provides legal aid to refugees in Eastleigh, said police were arbitrarily arresting people of Somali origin.
“We have a lot of Kenyan Somalis who have even been victims of police swoops and other forms of violations,” he said.
“The government has not been able to establish a very credible nexus between the presence of refugees in the city and the insecurity,” he said. Yet, you get a very deep sense of growing xenophobia against Somalis be they refugees or even Kenyan Somalis.
"You can't castigate an entire community. You can't blame all Somali refugees for the attacks." adds LeilaWaithira, A lawyer
AL-SHABAAB "ALLEDGED" BOMBS
There are a series of attacks alledgegedly carried out by al-shabaab. Anything that goes off, as in a bomb form is attributed as Somalis have done. Majority of Somalis are peace-loving people except some few radical elements. People know this, but out of frustration or maybe even just ignorance, they want to blame everything on Somalis. They have top blame on their adversaries. something - someone they can see, not some group that is just a word to them.
You don’t need much to see what is mutating. Some in Kenya are translating the war on al-Shabab as a war on Somalis. They have little adequate background on who al-Shabab are. They do not have much sympathy anymore of the reasons why hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled from Somalia in the first place.The country’s leadership sometimes does not help. When the grenade and improvised bomb attacks begun in October 2011, the then internal security deputy minister, the late Orwa Ojode, referred to al-Shabab as a snake whose tail may be in Somalia but the head is in Eastleigh and it must be decapitated. The statement was seriously faulted as irresponsible and with the ability to raise serious reprisals.
It did raise tensions and following every attack, fingers have been pointed at al-Shabab and by extension the Somali community – whether or not anybody has claimed responsibility. While there are a number of theories about who's behind the attacks, the most common explanation is that al-Shabab fighters and sympathisers are retaliating for Kenya's ongoing presence in southern Somalia.
Another is that al-Qaeda agents are trying to drive a wedge between Kenya's ethnic and religious groups, or that Somali inter-clan feuds are spilling over. For their part, many Somali refugees accuse Kenyan security agents of carrying out attacks to spur an anti-Somali backlash.
The clashes that have rocked Eastleigh in recently just go to show the deep mistrust between non-Somalis and ethnic or even Kenyan Somalis. Buildings owned by Somalis are pelted with stones and looted. We have heard reports of Somalis being beaten up. After the Sunday explosion the media reported on Somalis being forced out of public service vehicles. The police themselves frequently carry out massive swoops – arresting anyone who looks like a Somali.
Don’t get me wrong –I’m not saying that the security arm should not do its job. It’s a known fact that Eastleigh is a conduit for small arms. Police have on many occasions recovered explosive materials, grenades and guns in the homes or shops of some.
Read also : Xenophobia against Somalis in Kenya