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Police arrest ‘matatu extortionists’ in Nairobi’s Industrial Area



Police in Makadara, Nairobi, have cracked a criminal syndicate operating on the area’s roads.

OCPD Timon Odingo said detectives had arrested 20 members of the notorious gang known as Kamagiras who were forcefully extorting money from matatu operators in Mukuru Kwa Reuben.

During a sting operation early Tuesday morning, police seized four motorbikes believed to have been stolen.

The riders abandoned the bikes after they realised police were conducting an operation.

“The riders escaped when they realised our undercover team was conducting an operation at the slum. The gang extorts each matatu Sh100 as a fee to pick up commuters at the matatu stage,” Mr Odingo said.

“If the matatu does not give out the money, its door is forcefully closed so that no passenger will get in and then the driver is ordered to move.” 

Area Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Felix Nyamai added that the suspects were detained for more questioning. They believe investigations will lead to the arrest of the leaders of the “organised” gang.

Police said the matatu sector is losing millions of money to the gang.

“In the paradise of the gang, the leaders drive Prados and other expensive vehicles but when you go to the matatu stage, the stages are manned by ‘hopeless’ youths,” he said.

He urged the public to volunteer information on the gang to security agents.

“I urge members of the public to give police information which can lead to the arrest of such criminals within the society so that they can live in peace,” Mr Odingo added.

The greatest challenge for the police, Mr Odingo said, is that criminals change tactics when they are busted.

Rasta look

Police reports indicated that the gangsters used to be identified easily because of their rasta look (dreadlocks).

They later started using the Wakorino head scarf, before changing to sniffing tobacco in the open. But nowadays they look like any other ordinary Kenyan.

“It’s hard to arrest them because they have no physical mark on them. Even if you arrest the ones extorting money at the matatu stage and take them to court, they are given bond and no matter how hefty it is, their ‘bosses’ pay the bonds instantly,” the police said.

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