Machete-wielding gangs have turned Mombasa streets and estates into their killing zones, sparking fear of insecurity in the entire county.
Killings in parts of Kisauni and Likoni sub-counties appear to go unabated, with human rights groups reporting that 15 people have been killed by the gangs in the last one month.
Some parts of Kisauni like Utange, Junda, Mishomoroni, Kadzandani and Kwa-palestina, are under the gangs who have literally imposed a “curfew” and residents are forced to be in their houses before 7pm.
Resident of several parts of Kisauni like Kiembeni, Kwa-palestina, Junda, Shanzu, Mtopanga and Utange have now formed vigilante groups to protect themselves.
Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara says they have intensified intelligence-gathering and deployed more police officers to patrol Junda.
Human rights groups and residents claim there are over 26 gangs, including juvenile groups and all-women militias, in different parts of Mombasa County.
Ipara disputes the number but says “it is possible” when asked about reports gang members wear police uniforms. He said six militiamen recently arrested in Junda had police uniforms. “In Junda we arrested six people with dangerous weapons and police uniform. We have also deployed intelligence teams and patrols to pursue those gangs,” Ipara says.
Theories have emerged over the re-emergence of these gangs. Some residents say they are offshoots of Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao that split after gang wars on the sharing of spoils.
Security analysts say the gangs comprise youth who were organised, used by politicians but abandoned.
Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) says some of the gangs currently terrorising Mombasa are Wajukuu Wa Bibi, Mawayo, Spiders, Chafu and Temeke and an all-women Wakware Babies.
Others are Gaza, Spanish Spatter, Vietnam, Akili za Usiku, 64 Gang, Memory Gang, Watalia Gang, Crazy Boys, Kongo by Force, Yaung Tags, Watalia and Wajukuu wa Mbwa.
Shiranga team, Chafuu za docks, Wayoo, Bidii Kweli, Yakuza, Getto Youth, 40 thieves, Ondafa Tuletule, Baoboa, Nyuma cha Moto and Tupwa Tupwa. “Police and gangs are both responsible for most street deaths. The police and the community should stop these gangs,” says Francis Auma, MUHURU Rapid Response Officer.
He says the police can only win the war against gangs if they team up with the community. Late last month, Heba Kaulu and his wife Juliet Mbaru were attacked and killed by a gang of three people in police uniform in their Junda home.
Last week, a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) employee was killed by three unknown people outside a wines and spirits shop in Bamburi. Ipara says there was one incident in Likoni where a gang of 20 people armed with machetes and knives tried to attack police officers on patrol.