Stun gun torches sold openly amid fears owners do not have permits

Man hawking a stun gun along Uhuru Highway. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

One month ago, Saddam Ochieng’ had a near-death experience after getting the shock of his life.

Mr Ochieng’ had come to Nairobi one week earlier to look for a job. But the events of May 19 forced him to book the first bus back to Kanyulo village in Homa Bay County.

On that fateful Thursday, Ochieng’ left his brother’ house at River Bank in Embakasi to visit a relative in Soweto, Kayole.

“I was walking on a lonely path when two men approached me from the opposite direction. I heard a crackling sound like that of sparks of electricity and I immediately fell down, unconscious. The men emptied my pockets and left me lying in the dust,” he said.

Ochieng’ would make it home, weak and traumatised. He did not know it at the time but he had fallen victim to the growing use of electroshock weapons that are freely sold in the city streets in the full glare of the police.

The most common are stun guns disguised as flashlights. When deployed, they can deliver up to 50,000 volts, which causes muscle spasms, pain and paralysis that can last for up to 15 minutes.

The stun guns have high voltage but low amperage, so they rarely kill unless used multiple times or if the victim has health issues like heart disease.

Nowadays the crackling sound is common as traders hawk the gadgets along Uhuru Highway and University Way stretching all the way near Central Police Station gate especially during traffic jams.

When The Standard caught up with a few of the sellers, they said each stun gun is sold for between Sh1,500-Sh3,000 depending on voltage.


We established that there are three models popular with civilians, with modest calculations putting the number of these gadgets in private hands in the thousands. The sellers said most buyers cite self-defence as the main reason for purchasing them.

Reached for comment, Police Spokesman Bruno Shioso said that sub-county and station commanders will launch a crackdown to arrest the sellers.

“This weapon is illegal in Kenya and it can be easily accessed by people with ill intention. Our commanders will swing into action to ensure that it’s no longer sold to anyone,” Mr Shioso said.

He warned those who have bought the weapon but do not have a licence that they are not protected by any law and will be treated as criminals when apprehended.

Under the Firearms Act, electroshock weapons like stun guns and tasers are considered to be firearms, and thus require a permit to own. Those found guilty face up to 15 years in jail.

Security expert George Musamali said: “It is risky for this kind of business to go on in the country without the intervention of the police. Before 2014, it was not illegal to own stun guns and teasers without a permit. Even toy guns were allowed then. This is no longer the case.”

Vetting process

Mr Musamali said the police are supposed to arrest the sellers and suppliers of the gadgets.

“It must be done urgently because it seems thousands of the guns are now in the wrong hands in the slums and the owners did not go through a normal vetting process.

“Research has revealed that the weapon is majorly used in informal settlements and they have become a danger to the citizens and a threat to national security,” he said.