‘Captian J’, the dreaded gang commander feared in death

The name of slain Dula alias Captain J, who police claim was the leader of a knife-wielding juvenile gang, still strikes terror in the hearts of Kisauni slum dwellers in Mombasa.

Villages along the Old Malindi road where the criminal gangs have turned to be their bastion, are still living under the shadow of his fear nearly a week after he was gunned down.

Locals say it is still early to rule out retaliatory attacks by Dula’s ardent legion of militants who occasionally launch horror in the wee hours of the morning. Dula was killed on Tuesday by police.

His relatives and locals paint different pictures of his short life. His father Hemedi Salim says his son was a hard working boy who commanded respect among his peers especially in football.

“I had promised to buy his football team uniform because they were doing well. It is sad he was labelled a gang leader because he was loved by his peers,” said Mr Salim who revealed that his son denied links with the gangs whenever they asked him.

Residents of Minazi Mingi village in Kisauni, where he was killed, however, describe Dula as a stone-cold killer who rose to the leadership of the Kisauni Wakali Wao cell at the age of 22.

Some residents say Dula ascended to the group’s leadership in late 2015 after its first leader, Mohamed Bakari, was stabbed to death by a mob at Mwandoni, Kisauni. Others, however, say Dula was only a leader of ‘Watengwa’ an offshoot of Wakali Wao and Wakali Kwanza after the two groups disintegrated into several small cells.

Great threat

These small cells, according to police sources, operate independently but they come together whenever each of them is faced with an existential threat. Other groups include Wakali Kweli which operates in Bamburi, Wakali Che based in Vietnam area of Bombolulu and Wakali Pesa which operates mainly on matatu terminus.

Investigations indicates that Dula dropped out Tononoka Secondary School in Form Two in 2015 and joined a football team at Kadongo grounds. He was named the team captain. But as a boy and a devoted Muslim, he spent most of his time at Ikhlas Madrass, Kisauni. Police say Dula was on their radar for years.  

“He was an upright boy. He was a devoted boy but he started to drift to crime because of drugs,” said his uncle Yusuf Swale, adding that villagers celebrated Dula’s killing.

Analysts say the rise in the number of criminal gangsin Kisauni is due to poor parenting, narcotics and police laxity. Security agents say Mombasa has about 47 juvenile gangs inflicting injuries to residents despite security officials improving the situation and promising to take more action. “They disintegrated due to differences over sharing of the loot. But it is also because of increasing number of membership,” said a local community leader in Bakarani.

Mr Julius Ogogoh, the Director for Commission for Human Rights and Justice Rights, say at 25, Dula was a senior member of the juvenile gang whose membership are between 15 to 20 years.

“Majority of these boys are school dropouts and that is why we say that this is not a police matter. Parents must take up their roles,” said Ogogoh. “They are always high on drugs like Rohypnol tablet which is stuck under the tongue like a sweet. Rohypnol is addictive and gives a sleepy ‘high’ if consumed by a normal minded man,” he said.

Dula’s sister Amina Ali says that the family had planned to accompany him to the police station but did not after police made it clear that they will kill him.

“Police officers had vowed to kill him. We had planned to take him to the police after he was named as most wanted criminal,” said Ms Ali in an interview after Dula’s death.

But Kisauni OCPD Julius Kiragu revealed that the police had trailed Dula for years. “We feel bad when a young man is killed and that is why we say this problem cannot be left to the police alone because it is a societal problem. But if they won’t change they should know if you commit a crime there are consequences,” said Kiragu.

A fortnight ago, Dula described by police as ‘most wanted criminal’ in Mombasa, sent a text message to police, warning them to leave his mother alone. 

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