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Infamous criminals who robbed to ‘feed the poor’

KENYA @ 50
By - KENNETH KWAMA | October 15th 2013
The Standard carried the story of the killing.  [PHOTO: file/STANDARD]

By KENNETH KWAMA

KENYA: In June 1977, a thug called Danson Gachui went on the rampage in Nairobi, killing people and committing robberies. But what baffled the police was the sophisticated manner in which these crimes were committed.

 For sometime Gachui remained on a police watch list and was wanted for 10 robberies, murder, and stealing machine guns from two Nairobi police officers at gunpoint.

  Gachui’s trail

 The Standard, which was on Gachui’s trail, referred to him as “Nairobi’s most wanted criminal,” and kept the public informed about the search. An article published by The Inquirer in 1988 stated that Gachui had survived two shootouts with the police.

“He was feeling cocky; he challenged the famous Pat Shaw to a shootout. Shortly after the challenge, police spotted Gachui driving a stolen Audi. After a long car chase, they overtook him in the ramshackle neighbourhood known as Nairobi South C,” stated The Inquirer.

 Leaped from car

 The criminal leaped from his car and opened fire with two pistols at a police officer whose car was behind him. The Standard reported that the officer shot the gangster dead through the mouth.

 Although the paper did not state the name of the policeman, everyone in town knew the officer was Shaw.

 Several years later, a criminal known as Peter Wakinyonga - the killer - was celebrating his latest robbery, drinking beer in a bar with his girlfriend in the Kangemi, Nairobi. Someone tipped off Shaw, who mobilised his team and surrounded the bar.

According to The Inquirer, Wakinyonga was ordered to surrender, but he refused, and instead opened fire. One of the cops fired back and killed him. Everyone said the police officer who felled the criminal was Shaw.

 Wakinyonga was known for his generosity and when the rest of the world was busy enjoying the Bond films, he was busy ‘bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.’ It is said that he used to rob the rich and give the money to the poor.

 He redefined how robbers viewed violence as a tool of coercion and escaped from several police dragnets. The most notable escape was sometime in 1975 when he fled with a bullet wound in his right collarbone.

Robbed from banks

 He was said to have robbed from banks in Thika and Nairobi along Wabera Street. He was also said to have killed a man named Bloch as he attempted to steal his car.

 Shaw was instrumental in the deaths of these two criminals and was better known for the big number of the others he felled. He left people in awe because he was always the first person to arrive at crime scenes, whether day or night.

 It was alleged this was because he had a glandular problem that never allowed him to sleep for more than two hours, so he spent his time roaming the streets of Nairobi searching for criminals. In a yet to be published biography, David Smith is researching the life and times of the late sleuth.

He was always the first on the scene of any fire or bombing and always led the police and fire brigade in recovery efforts to ensure looting did not occur.

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