Manicured lawns and a dust-free tarmac road snaking its way right into the heart of Nairobi’s Nyayo Estate does not immediately give away the deep secret within, one that has denied many residents a good night’s sleep.
Behind this giant architectural masterpiece sandwiched between concrete jungles and iron-corrugated shacks that define lawless Eastlands, are muted cries of pain and despair.
Families are haunted by the cruelty of death, made even more painful by the bizarre manner most of these people have died.
It is inconceivable that behind the seeming serenity and inviting ambiance of the residential estate, lies the ugly reality of what life in this estate really entails. It is a litany of systematic abuse of laws, ethos and morals.
Now, residents fear that inside some of the magnificent apartments, resides deviants who could be murderers, perverts, paedophiles, drug traffickers, money launderers, even witches, some claim.
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Statistics do not lie. In the last six months, two residents have died and scores injured, a child has been defiled and foreigners arrested with fake currency....all at Nyayo Estate. These incidents helped give a sneak peek into what may as well be a ‘wild west’ in the guise of modern urban living.
On June 29, 2015, a CID officer shot and killed himself in his girlfriend’s house in the estate. The officer, Anthony Kangu, based at Kayole Police Station, had allegedly tried to turn the gun on his lover and her two children following a domestic quarrel.
It is alleged the woman met Kangu after falling out with her previous lover.
Kangu, 29, is said to have shot indiscriminately at neighbours, prompting his girlfriend and her two children to flee on sensing danger.
He allegedly shot at his son’s bedroom door, which was locked from the inside. He would later shoot himself — police reportedly found a suicide note in the house.
The incident came barely hours after a school boy was crushed to death in the same estate by a bus that had just dropped him home from school. Three-year-old Fredrick Onyango died when the bus ran over him as the driver reversed.
Fast forward to November 1, 2015, when a jilted police officer attempted to kill his lover in a gun attack that left the son of the woman badly injured.
David Otieno, 34, an officer deployed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), in a fit of rage, tried to kill Francisca Mulinge for allegedly dumping him.
Otieno reportedly went to the house at around 12.30am, knocked on the door and demanded to be let in. Afraid, Mulinge’s 21-year-old son Chrispus Makau, who was in the sitting room watching TV, is said to have declined to open the door. An infuriated Otieno reportedly started shooting into the sitting and other rooms in the house through the windows. Makau was hit by a bullet in one arm as he ducked for cover. His mother and other sibling escaped unscathed. Ambrose Musyoka, a neighbour who witnessed the gun drama, said Otieno threatened to shoot security guards at the estate when they attempted to stop him at the gate.
He claimed Otieno also fired a shot at a neighbour who was peeping through the curtains of her windows, besides robbing one of the residents of his Mercedes Benz, which he used to flee from the scene of crime.
A month later, on December 22, 2015, the body of Charity Mukami Wachira was discovered in one of the housing units after the 24-year-old mother of one went missing for almost a week. She is believed to have been murdered by her 43-year-old boyfriend Martin Kunguru.
Kunguru has been accused of killing Mukami on the night of December 16 then going underground. He surrendered to the police in Kitale after the decomposing body of the woman was found in his house.
The estate, with an estimated population of more than 20,000 people, is home to many foreigners, most of them from South Sudan and Nigeria. Incidentally, some of the foreigners have been linked to criminal activities.
In March 2015, a South Sudanese national appeared before a city court after he was accused of defiling a child. Makoy Madhak Deer was accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl in the estate.
“Madhak on the third day of March, 2015 at Nyayo Estate in Embakasi Division, intentionally caused his penis to penetrate the vagina of a child aged five years,” read part of the charge sheet.
In October 2015, four Nigerians were charged after they were allegedly arrested with fake currency. Adun Nosakhare, Apollo Eronmonse, Enobakhare Eddyson and Akpukpula Destiny were accused of committing the offence on October 23.
The court heard that the suspects had 100 fake US dollars. Nosakhare and Eronmonse were also charged with being in the country illegally and without valid documents. Before a police raid in their house, neighbours had voiced their concern, claiming the foreigners and their Kenyan female companions were a nuisance, disturbing the peace at night.
Police stumbled on the fake dollars after conducting a search in the house.
Police and locals however insist that the incidents are isolated, maintaining that Nyayo Estate is a safe sanctuary attracting negative publicity because of the sheer number of residents who are attracted to the estate by its vibrant residents’ associations.
“Whatever is happening here is not unique. There are crime incidents elsewhere and I don’t think Nyayo Estate is insulated from the bad elements in society,” said Embakasi OCPD, Apollo Wanyonyi.
The police boss explained that most of the crimes were committed indoor, making it extremely difficult for officers to prevent them. He attributed the crime pattern in the estate to the large population and the individualistic culture preferred by a majority of residents.
Some of the by-laws aimed at enhancing security in the estate prohibit the keeping of pets like dogs and cats. Dogs or other pets found within the estate are usually confiscated, while kiosks, hawking and posters are banned.
“Any form of hawking, products promotion, distribution of fliers or pasting of posters or notices on walls, poles or any other public area within the estate, is strictly prohibited,” reads part of the guidelines by Kiragu and Mwangi Limited, the estate managers.
The estate management office keeps a database of all names and contacts of residents in the 4,774 housing units. The information is vital in case of an emergency.
Peter Obiene, the Secretary General of Nyayo Estate Residents Association (NERA) said profiling of residents is meant to foster effective communication and help in identifying strangers. “Rules here are strict, those crimes are isolated cases that take place inside individual houses,” said Obiene, adding that: “I cannot talk much about criminal incidents because they are under investigations and in courts.