Nairobbery No More

Nairobi saw a nasty spate of crime at the start of the year. A senior figure with the aid agency Care was shot dead in a carjacking. Two Americans died in the same way. Gunfights erupted at a roadblock out of town. Dozens of locals died without the headlines afforded the unfortunate foreigners. And then the Mungiki – a bizarre cultish criminal gang with pseudo-spiritual origins – began a spree of grisly murders, beheading matatu drivers and conductors who refused to pay protection.

And then it stopped. The Mungiki went back underground and the criminal gangs seemed to shut up shop. All the experts had been warning to expect things to get worse ahead of next month’s elections but suddenly things had petered out.

Now, thanks to the sterling efforts of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, we know why. Campaigners believe the police are responsible for almost 500 executions after tracing hundreds of bodies dumped in morgues. Many of the corpses had a single bullet wound in the back of the head. The police deny allegations of extrajudicial executions.

It may offend notions of human rights but the overriding feeling of many Kenyans is that whoever they were, the 500 probably had it coming.

We may well never find out what happened. These things have a nasty habit of being forgotten. Few local journalists want to start investigating an organisation thought to be killing its opponents. And who can blame them?


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