When a gang riding on motorbikes raided Ragumo and Ofunyu villages in Kisumu East on September 19 and 20 last year, leaving 10 people with serious injuries, it was reported that they were pursuing a motorcycle thief.
Reports had it that the gang which terrorised residents and destroyed property was a security arm of Kisumu’s boda boda operators. No one was convicted over the chaos that left one person paralysed.
Fast forward to Saturday May 4. A bike repairman identified as Kevin Omondi was bundled out of his house in Manyatta, stripped naked, tied up and tortured to death.
Photos captured by one of his attackers show his last moments. In one of the photos, he is seated in a muddy place and bleeding from the head. His hands are tied behind his back.
A caption of the photos shared in a WhatsApp group by one Festus read that Omondi, whose funeral is being organised in Gem in Siaya County, defiled a five-year old girl.
About two weeks prior, another man checked out of the Intensive Care Unit at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital having survived a brutal attack. The unconscious man was dumped at Kisat River near the old Kisumu Airport road.
Since September last year, nearly 10 people have been brutalised, some over rent arrears and others in forcible eviction from property. The Saturday Standard established that most of these cases were reported to the police but no action was taken.
An investigation which included interviews with people who have been threatened because they made reports to the police revealed that a gang going by names such as Chap Chap team and QRT is behind the attacks.
The group was initially formed to ensure order among boda boda operators and their security at a time when attacks were common but it has morphed into a criminal gang for hire that intimidates and harasses business-folk, politicians and tenants and landlords.
It is suspected they are also behind a wave of armed robberies and burglaries in the lakeside town. An official of Boda Boda Operators’ Association told us that the group ensured their leader was elected as chairperson. “They are now demanding for the certificate from our union to be recognised as bona-fide leaders. One of the things they want to do is upset our plans to help the riders get insurance and licenses by proposing cheaper irregularly acquired premiums which would only put us at loggerheads with the State,” said the leader who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The group is so dreaded that none of the people we spoke to agreed to be named. “I have personally been on their radar after I reported one of the activities to the police. They have been to my home on two occasions but only found my wife,” said one.
“I am constantly under threats because I have openly opposed their operations,” said a leader.
They said at one time they had a meeting in which they called the county security team and raised concerns over the activities of this group but nothing happened after that. Former County Police Commander Ancet Kaloki said he did not know about the existence of such a group.
We however established that the change of guard at the county and regional officer was affecting efforts to rein in this group. County police boss Benson Maweu said he has received reports about the gang and that investigations have been launched.