Police on the spot for setting kidnap, robbery suspect free

Sylvia Khatonde narrates to journalist how she was kidnaped by a taxi driver at Kakamega Joyland area and dumped at Mumias Nuclear. [PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]

A family in Kakamega is demanding answers after kidnap suspect was released from police custody under unclear circumstances.

The suspect, a taxi driver, was arrested following the kidnapping and robbery incident along Kakamega –Mumias.

Sylvia Khatonde, 35, told The Standard yesterday that her husband dropped her at Joyland stage along the road to catch a vehicle to Busia town to buy fish for their hotel.

“A taxi heading to Mumias stopped. Besides the driver, there were two men and a young woman who told me to get into the car and that I would pay the normal fare of Sh100 to Mumias,” said Khatonde.

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She said when they reached Mwitoti, barely 3km to Mumias town, the car stopped and the man sitting next to the driver exchanged seats with a woman who was sitting at the back. The vehicle was then diverted to a rough road leading to a sugarcane farm.

Khatonde said after about 20 minutes, they reached the old Mumias airstrip (Kiwanja Ndege) and the driver claimed they were running out of fuel. That was around 7.30am.

“They stopped the car and the two men we were sitting with at the back grabbed my throat and tried strangling me. They asked me whether I know them and I said I haven’t met them before. They took from me the Sh23,000 I had for buying fish, two mobile phones worth Sh30,000 and two ATM cards,” said Ms Khatonde.

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She added: “They took me out of the taxi and told me to give them my mobile phone and ATM pin numbers and I complied. They started beating me with a blunt object and the driver came with a towel and covered my face and drove away. I was left crying for help while bleeding.”

According to Khatonde, the owner of the farm found her around 8am and took her to Booker Police Post where she recorded a statement (OB5/19/7/2018).

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A manhunt for the car was launched and after seven days officers from Kakamega Police Station impounded it on July 25 around Muliro Gardens.

Wycliffe Luvembe, the complainant's husband, said the taxi driver when questioned said he had hired out the car when time the incident occurred.

“He led us to his colleague who had the vehicle that day and my wife was able to identify him. Police arrested him and he was taken to the cells,” said Mr Luvembe.

They recorded another statement at Kakamega Central Police Station (OB25/2018) and were asked to return the next day.

But when they returned, they found neither the car nor the suspect. The officer investigating the case reportedly told them they were under pressure to release the suspect.

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“The taxi and the lead suspect vanished since that day. Police said they have never tracked the car or even obtained information from mobile phone provider that can help arrest the other suspects,” he said.

Kakamega Central OCPD Joseph Chebii said he was unaware of the case. “I will investigate the matter and any officer found culpable of such a serious offence will be dealt with as per the law. We will not have sacred cows in this game,” said Chebii

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