Shot three times, woman lives in fear as thugs roam free

Joy Kanali explains how she was attacked and shot several times by robbers, who are still threatening her at her home in Mlolongo, Machakos County. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Joy Kanali drags her feet and slumps into a seat where she spends moments groaning in pain at her home in Mlolongo Phase 3. Her home is a solitary one-bedroom house perched on a hill overlooking Mlolongo town.

Medical records show Ms Kanali has a broken pelvic bone, a bruised uterus and a damaged bladder, thanks to an armed robbery that left her with three bullet wounds in her thighs and genitals. An old man is said to have died in the incident that also left another woman critically injured at the height of robberies in Mlolongo, a few months ago.

Besides the irredeemable damage to her reproductive system, the 19-year-old has been living in fear of another attack after her assailants started threatening her just after she left hospital.

She also endures pain of watching her assailants roam freely after police failed to arrest them.

Kanali’s countless visits to hospitals and numerous futile calls to police started on the evening of June 6 after she called it a day at an M-Pesa shop where she worked, about 200 metres from her home.

Just as she stepped outside the shop at around 7.10pm, she heard two gunshots in the air followed by a scuffle as people scampered for safety. She was left alone facing four gun-wielding men. The image of the assailants has been engraved in her mind to date.

“I saw them and can identify them even now. They all had rugged hair. One had a hooded purple sweater and I also saw one with brown timberland shoes. The woman who ran a grocery store near my shop still had her lamp on and so I could see the men quite clearly,” says Kanali, adding that he had served the men countless times in the M-Pesa shop.

In a chorus, the men commanded her to give them all the money she had. They also asked the whereabouts of her employer’s daughter, who normally drove her home.

She only had Sh170 which she gave them, begging them to allow her fetch the rest from the shop so that they could spare her. They also took her phone, her eye glasses and her trench coat.

“I also heard them talk in Kikamba and they agreed that I didn’t have any more money on me. Then they pushed me down and pointed their guns at me all at once,” she says.

“They spread my legs as I tucked my head in my hands away from them. Then I heard a gunshot and felt hot pain in my left thigh. I knew they had shot me and I thought they would leave it at that.”

But they did not. She felt another gunshot. This time in her right thigh. The man wearing heavy timberland shoes then kicked her on the groin several times. “I thought I had passed water. Later, I checked and found it was blood.”

The third bullet went through her private parts, tearing through her bladder and scratching her uterus and spine as it exited through her back. This is according to medical records at Kenyatta National Hospital, the Nairobi Hospital and Kitengela Medical Services where Kanali has been getting treatment since the time of the shooting.

Pool of blood

She was first rushed to a hospital in Kitengela where her wounds were stitched. But when she woke up in a pool of blood the following day, her mother, Jane Wamboi, rushed her to hospital where the wounds were opened, cleaned to remove poisonous fragments of the bullets before they were stitched again.

Kanali was admitted to KNH for two weeks where her heavy bleeding, uncontrollable bladder and the pain in her spine were monitored.

Today, she suffers severe bloating and irregular menses and she still cannot control her bladder. Once, she was admitted to a hospital in Kitengela when she could not pass stool for nearly two weeks.

She also stopped schooling at a city college when she started suffering memory loss.

“I took Joy to school and rented a house for her to give her a change of environment. But recently, she started calling me saying she was lost and didn’t know her way back home. I was concerned and brought her home where I can monitor her,” says Ms Wamboi.

“Joy has always been a cheerful person but these days she gets me worried. There are days she wakes up very bubbly and talks and laughs too much. Then her moods change and she becomes extremely sad for nothing. Doctors in Kajiado say it is post-traumatic stress.”

Wamboi, a founder and church minister at New House of Dominion, about a kilometre away from her home, says she was coming from a fellowship when she heard the gunshots that maimed her daughter.

The mother of five says her daughter’s medication has left her bankrupt after politicians abandoned her even after they promised to cater for Joy’s medication in a meeting that followed the shooting.

Residents demonstrated in Mlolongo following the shooting, prompting politicians to hold a security meeting.

A police officer told the Saturday Standard the June attack followed the transfer of the police officers.

Increased robberies

“Nearly the whole police station was moved and new officers came in. And as the new officers where adjusting to their work, goons identified the gap and increased robberies because the new officers didn’t know many places. But now, insecurity has gone down,” said the officer.

The officer said Kanali did not cooperate in identifying the criminals who shot her.

“I have asked her to take me to the people who attacked her preferably at night so that I can arrest them but she has refused to cooperate. I am willing to help her but we must not involve the whole police station if we are to succeed,” said the officer.

But Wamboi is against the officer’s request.

“My daughter has told them everything they need to know, including where the men live. Must she also accompany them to her attackers’ home? This is putting my daughter’s life in danger. Let police do their job,” she says.

Athi River DCIO Vincent Kipkorir said he had taken up the matter with officers at Mlolongo police station.

“I know of the attacks that happened in Mlolongo Phase 3 around June but I don’t have details of individual incidents. But I will ensure the OCS in Mlolongo takes up Joy’s case because the girl’s life could be in danger,” said Kipkoprir.