Sins, scars and mutation of Nakuru's killer 'Confirm' gang

County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo speaks after the arrest of a suspected Confirm Gang member (left) on December 29, 2022. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard].

This is a trick that saw many lose their hard-earned money before Kenyans became more vigilant in dismissing such requests.

"With time, they graduated to high-tech ways of swindling people. They began swapping people's sim cards and sweeping clean their mobile wallets and linked bank accounts," said Njeru.

This form of crime was not much of a threat until the group, mainly comprising teens and youth in their 20s and 30s, began to evolve into what is today one of the deadliest gangs in Nakuru.

"Their shift to other forms of crime that involve violence came about when they began to indulge in drugs as they had all the money. Kenyans became more discreet with their personal details leaving their taps drier so they had to look for alternative sources of money," said Njeru.

To sustain their operations, the gang has been using threats to residents against exposing them. Some residents who have in the past spoken to the press about the gang have been forced to flee the estates.

For years, Kivumbini and Bondeni estates became their main haven, with the government linking their existence to suspected drug barons who turned them into clients and smugglers.

In December 2016, the then Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery declared the Confirm Group an organised criminal group in a gazette notice.

Since then, the police have made numerous futile attempts to dismantle the group, some of which have unfortunately emboldened them or forced them to relocate to areas that were not prone to crime.

In the last two years, police have sustained the purge against the gang but the main success has been destabilizing its operating base in the informal settlements of Kivumbini and Bondeni.

Former Interior CS Fred Matiang'i vowed to wipe out the gang. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

"We shall deploy unprecedented fire and force on Nakuru gangs. Let no one come to lecture me on human rights. We shall not differentiate between them and their financiers," said Matiang'i.

A crime committed in December 2021 became a breakthrough for the three killings. The prime suspect Evans Kebwaro was arrested in Masimba, Kisii County on June 30.

He was found in possession of a mobile phone belonging to 21-year-old Beatrice Akinyi. Kebwaro admitted to killing her on December 2, 2021, in Kwa Buda Estate which borders Mawanga.

He also disclosed his participation in the killing of the three Mawanga women while in the company of seven accomplices, five of whom were arrested in Kivumbini on July 1.

Even as the police investigated the matter, The Standard in its own investigation established that the suspects may have been involved or were at the scene of other murder cases.

One of the suspects arraigned in court over the Mawanga killings was Josphat Simiyu Juma, the first responders in the killing of 42-year-old Judy Wairimu.

Wairimu was killed at her residence in Manyani on June 1 alongside her two daughters Shadiya Wangare and Limsy Wanjiru aged 17 and 11.

A spirited operation saw the police led by county commander Peter Mwanzo run the gang out of town for at least three months before it made a comeback, killing innocent residents.

Pastor Samson Murage was killed on November 2 in Manyani slums where several people had their ears chopped off by the criminals as a warning.

On December 4, 2022, the gang waylaid, robbed and killed a recce squad officer Harrison Onywoki Onwonga, 30, as he walked home with his two brothers who escaped with injuries at Mazembe Grounds in Nakuru West.

County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo parades suspected Confirm gang leader Dickson Macharia Waithera at Central Police Station in Nakuru on August 3, 2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Angeline Mary Wangui, 21, was found murdered, her decapitated body put in a gunny bag and dumped in Rongai along the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway on December 9.

At some point, Nakuru County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo announced progress in the fight against the gang after a raid in Msalaba area of Nakuru East led to the arrest of Jackson Marucha Obedi Yasin.

"Marucha alias Rodgers is among the ring leaders of the WaTZ splinter gang of Confirm Group. He was arrested in possession of daggers during a raid where the gang was meeting," said Mwanzo.

In his confession, Marucha said he was on his path to reforming and severing his ties with the gang.

"There is no structured way of joining Confirm. You just find yourself in it based on your actions and company. I have been in the group for around four years but I wanted to change," said Marucha.

Mr Mwanzo cites human rights activists and uncooperative communities as major challenges in the fight against gangs.

"It is unfortunate that some sympathisers protect these criminals. Our judicial criminal system needs to tighten its noose on them. Regrettably, social norms give thugs 40 days to go on with their crimes yet their victims have just a moment to live when they are struck," said Mwanzo.