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Breeding Ground for Illicit Activities, Fraud in Bombolulu Kibera

Nov 8, 2023 ##Illicit, ##Kibera, ##Law
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By Osoro Kenn

They are up in arms against any foreigner who wants to outsmart them and tamper with their
stress-free zone.

This is exactly what came into mind as we struggled to ponder our apprehension
in an unfamiliar stuffy informal illicit brew pub.

Beside us are about four masculine seemingly addictive men taking alcohol while keen to know

An identical pub vendor asks what I will take “nikuletee gani?” she asked. This signified that
they offer a variety of ‘goodies.’

To prove I am not a narc I quickly order bhang after having been briefed on all the available
take-aways, “nipee bhangi tatu- brings three rolls of bhang.”

Surprisingly, the Ksh.500 I gave out, the young sluggish lady, a bar worker, wearing a broad
smile with a tightly pressed skirt, gives a balance of Ksh.470, a clear indication that each roll of
bhang was Ksh.10.

My curiosity makes me so inquisitive in a self-disillusioned world with no one to answer me just

(Narrow rolled cylindrical- shaped like cigarette bhang.) PHOTO/ Kenn Osoro.

The recent quarterly report from NACADA shows that the use of bhang among Kenyans has
almost doubled over the last five years.

According to the report, one in every 53 Kenyans between the ages of 15 and 65 are using bhang.

Our interest is drawn to the smoke hovering from the back of the stinking shanty room located
along the fully littered long narrow entry where a colleague is interrogating the pub owner.

A colleague who doubled up as ‘my sponsor’ on that same day catches up with Rose Ademba,
not her real name, at Godham-Bombolulu in Kibra.

As young and middle-aged as she may seem to be, Rose who regards herself as a successful businesswoman reveals that she has two children and siblings who are depending on her.

In a story that paints extreme desperation, Rose who was initially a hairdresser noted that
engaging in traditional illicit brew was not a walk in the park.

She lamented of going through a lot of challenges before settling on the illegal brew business.

“Starting this job was not easy, before then I was a hairdresser, and my mother used to brew and
sell chang’aa (illicit liquor). After her demise I had to be responsible and help my younger
siblings and my mother’s progenies,” she said.

All these, however, go against John Mututho’s 2010 Alcohol Drinks and Control Act which
envisaged proper control of the production, sale, and consumption of any kind of alcoholic
beverages in the country.

Section 38 of the law says brewing and sale of illicit liquor amounts to an offense that can lead to
a jail term of up to 10 years or a fine of up to Ksh.10 million or both.

For licensed dealers, if the alcohol is contaminated by a harmful substance, the license is
forfeited and no new license is granted to them thereafter.

Rose’s ‘job’ has however been met with impediments, according to her, law enforcement
agencies have turned a blind eye to the challenges that come with the ‘business.’ At a fee.

The mother of two lamented that containing police officers is a daunting task to them, and “at
times they would just pick you up despite giving them their usual share.

The bribe, she said, ranges between Ksh.50 and Ksh.200.

She revealed that in a week she gives police officers about Ksh.600. This truncates to about
Ksh.2500 a month, equated to Ksh.30, 000 a year.

“Majority prefer cash, they do avoid MPESA transactions, I once bought an officer airtime
instead of giving him cash but I deleted the message. There is one by the name Gitau, Abdi,
Monica, and ‘half-court.’”

Further interrogation pushed the middle-aged informal pub owner to admit that there are several
illicit brewpubs in the area, on her part, her colleagues are decrying bribery by police officers-
(tuko wengi hapa, hata hawa wamama huwa wanalia wamechokeshwa na maafisa wa polisi- she
said in Swahili)

Read Also:Watu Watatu Kortini Kibera kwa Kuuzia Raia Nyama ya Punda

On a further explanation

“The last time they arrested me, two months ago, we (my colleagues
and I) were released on a Ksh.5000 bond. We do avoid such instances by bribing them whenever
they come.” She detailed.

The informal pub achieves its maximum capacity during the weekends where Rose makes a
profit of between Ksh.800 and Ksh.1000 though these are exclusively illegal profits.

Even though we are talking about illegality, the middle-aged businesswoman confidently
revealed she started the sale of bhang to complement the marginal profits she was experiencing
in the illicit liquor. She has notable suppliers who deliver the brew.

“There is one guy who approached me and agreed that he would be supplying it to me- (Kuna
mwenye alikuja akaniambia ntakuwa nakusaidia kukutengenezea ukiuza)”

-Where it is heading-

But this is not the only business of the day, in an attempt to dig deeper into what happens mostly
during the weekends apart from chang’aa drinking. Rose hesitantly refuted services on
transactional sex when I asked. But after striking a good rapport with her she opened up.

“You are not the first person to ask. Two others have asked for the same services- sio wewe kwa
kwanza kuuliza, kuna wawili washa uliza.”

“Now that the demand is growing, I will have to start it off and look for potential clients, by this
she meant girls- sasa ntajipanga tuanze pia hio bizna nianze sasa kutafuta madems.” She added.

Chances were so high that girls were also being sexually exploited to entertain clients mostly
during the weekends in this area. I went ahead and asked whether I could get one client as soon
as possible.

“The ball is in my court, just take my number, I will be constantly calling potential clients, In
case of anything I will then inform you through a call- (siwezi kuambia ukuje na rada bado ni
chafu, lazima ningoje wakam ama nipige pige simu rada ikue safi ndio nikuambie ujitokeze ama

She later insisted that I should call her to get my number (si uniflash nipate number yako), with a
zeal to find me a potential client as soon as possible.

When I asked the best time for this,

“They normally avail themselves, hopefully, things will work out- si wanakujanga hapa, sio eti hawakujangi, so kuna hopes,” she said.

Linking it up with her initial revelation where she said her ‘business,’ thrives on the weekends,
she reiterated potential clients do come on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and the majority of
them are below the age of 35 years.

She is so quick to ask about my ‘taste and preference,’ “but now that we will be communicating
via calls, we can agree on your taste- tukiongea kwa simu, utaniambia rada gani kama unataka
mathe ama rika yako.”

Things started getting out of hand, she became suspicious and was very careful with the
conversation going forward.

According to her, such thoughts have never been on her mind, but due to demand, she was out to
give it a try. This is because I was the third person to ask for such services.

Read Also:“End Witch Hunt,” Alai Calls Out DCI officers

Surprisingly after the huge amount that was quoted, she changed tunes, she could then cautiously
act as a linkage, intimately ‘connect’ us then we agree with the client on the amount of cash for
the services.

“They do come for chang’aa but if someone is not interest with them, they keep off-But wako,
wanakujanga tu kuchapa kama ni ngwai, kama ni tei, na kama hakuna mwenye amewatongoza si
wanaenda, sasa ntawaunganisha tu alafu mnaelewana.”

Our subsequent probe and follow-up proved futile, Rose sensed an anomaly in us and then
decided to go silent just before forwarding us an MPESA message of the alleged transaction
done to the police officer. She could not receive our calls anymore.

In the recent economic survey report, 2023, crimes on corruption and offenses involving police
officers have slightly declined.

These are some of the offenses stipulated in the aforesaid report.

The National Police Service has classified such offenses. For instance, on corruption, there are
disciplines related to soliciting bribes, accepting bribes, accepting free-gifts, demanding by false
pretense, and other corruption offences.

From the report, data reveals the two aforementioned offenses have slightly decreased in the past
two years.

The reported number of offenses committed by law enforcers noted a 19 percent decline between
2021 and 2022. Corruption cases accounted for the highest proportion within the two categories
of offenses.

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Despite the decline, an upward trajectory was however recorded between 2020 and 2021 with a
marginal increase of 18 more reported cases from 79 cases in 2020, a 23 percent increase.

On the two classifications of offenses- corruption and offenses committed by police- males are
fond of falling victims as compared to their female counterparts. In corruption cases, for
instance, males accounted for the highest number of reported cases than females.

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Out of the 100 corruption reported cases in 2022, close to three-quarters of the cases involved

The same pattern was denoted in the subsequent six years.Meanwhile, a higher number of reported cases of offenses committed by the police were noted in 2018.

Cases recorded by the National Police Service were 591. Out of these, male police officers
involved was 78 percent.

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-Law Enforcement Agencies-
It took us several weeks to book an appointment in the office of the area OCS to seek
clarification on the allegations made by Rose. On the last day of the appointment, we were kept
waiting for about an hour not until we insisted on seeking audience with the deputy OCS or the
The deputy OCS Fred Omori admitted and confirmed that drug dealers have invaded Kibra. On
the same day, Omori denounced that they were beaten by rowdy youths during a crackdown on
illicit brew and restoration of order during a fire outbreak at Katwekera, Kibra.
“If we are chased, thrown stones at, and beaten when we are restoring order, what of doing a
patrol to eradicate bhang?” he asked.
Despite the ongoing questionable ‘police raids,’ Omori noted they were yet to make more arrests
while blaming the hostile environment as a setback.
They are keen on ensuring minority groups are not affected during their raids, as such, they
exercise constraints and use of excessive power even as they long to eradicate the illicit brew and
illegal drug.

“We cannot term dealers as fools; it is a business that they prepare themselves to do knowing
well we are hunting them down. We have used informers to nab and eradicate both bhang and
chang’aa. The process is long overdue.” He reiterated.

The police blame the local community for collaborating with the drug dealers making the
suppression of illegal drugs a hard nut to crack. Area residents always violently fight back during
arrests and raids.

“We have been fighting these issues; these victims have been arrested and are in court. One
from Laini Saba was arrested and fined in court with around Ksh.400,000 cash bail, proceeds of
bhang. So many other several arrests have also been made.”

The middle-aged businesswoman lamented about bribing her way to keep her illegal business
going, as such, several uncouth activities such as sexual exploitation and transactional sex are
looming, if not going on.

On his part, the Dept. OCS refuted bribery claims and clarified that it was an individual view.

“When officers are in the field, we are not able to ascertain whether they are taking bribes or
not,” he said adding that they haven’t heard of such reports or filed formal complaints.
He however gave an assurance that “once any culprit will be arrested over the same, then he will
be taken to court.”

According to Omori they are at times restricted to access interior areas in Kibra. He said,

“Most police officers are enemies of the people.”

On our monitory the following day and other two subsequent days in a fortnight, a police vehicle
is seen patrolling the same area- in a much more interior area, at ease.

This was an area that was alluded difficult to access. An area they said is inhabited by violent
extremists and goons who are ready to fight back.

(Police vehicle spotted near an informal illicit brewpub in Darajani Kibra, Tuesdays, 5th
September 2023, 8:48 am.)

The vehicle was parked near one of the illegal chang’aa pubs in Darajani, Kibra on Tuesday 5,
Sept 2023 at around 8:48 AM.

People believed to be customers of the notorious chang’aa pub are seen streaming in, a clear indication that it is business as usual, and after a while, the vehicle drove off empty-boarded at the back.

We were however not able to establish what the police officers were specifically up to but what
we are sure of is that the illicit liquor pub where the police vehicle was nearly parked was still
operational until the time this story was published.

On either looming or ongoing sexual immorality in these pubs, despite noting and terming it
illegal, the Dept.

OCS averted the claims saying they have no such information on their desk.

Their main concern is, however, the victims who might be under the age of 18 years. He vowed
to protect the underage against such crude activities.

“We will protect the under 18 who are taking part in such primitive activities. Those below 18
years are a major concern to the government and are still under care and protection.”

In a bid to fight the eradication of unending illicit brew, mid-this year, a joint operation by the
National Police, DCC in collaboration with area chiefs in Soweto saw 4000L of chang’aa
destroyed. The operation left area chiefs, D.O., and other officers nursing severe injuries.

“We are working on finding the brewing spot in Kibra and where bhang is packaged. That is
when we will be able to cut the supply and eradicate it rather than focusing on those who are
selling.” He averred.

The area OCS Thomas Ogeto on her part stated they are experiencing an inadequate number of
police officers in the station.

At the time, they had no officer manning the police station gate.
On illegal drugs, Ogeto said they are giving it their best.

“We even have a bhang exhibit with proceeds of over Ksh.400,000 (The OCS removes and shows bhang rolled in a rectangular- shaped wrapper).”

During the recovery operation, they lost a gun, and several police officers also got injured.

-Human Rights Eye-

On Monday, we visited Haki Africa, at the request of an official who wanted the rot exposed.

“Young girls and boys are recruited from Uganda to take part in illicit brewing mostly along
streams in Kibra. They are using dirty sewerage water to add taste to the already harmful
alcohol.” Said Fredrick Ojiro- Rapid Response Officer.

It is the nuisance caused by law enforcers and local administrative leaders that triggered him to
speak out, amid speculations that it goes beyond drug abuse and transactional sex, what he
termed ‘prostitution.’

According to him, local administrations play a crucial role in the sager, they take some fee
occasioned by a desire to go get rich quickly, but law enforcement agencies later denied and
termed them as allegations.

The pan-African human rights organization was at the time holding discussions with the National
Crime Research Center to counter all leaders and officers who might be involved.

The Rapid Response Officer allegedly pointed to a renowned individual involved in the
repackaging of illicit brew.

“A wealthy individual is buying illegal liquor and supplying it to different places by use of
motorbikes; some are hidden and transported in heavily loaded trucks to Kasarani.”

“These individuals have a brewery processing center where liquor is repackaged and bottled and
later supplied to various shops within and outside town,” Ojiro added.

This comes just a month after officials of the National Agency for the Campaign Against Abuse
discovered Chang’aa factories in some palatial homes in Nairobi.

The factories, according to investigators, were producing a wide range of alcoholic beverages,
from chang’aa to counterfeit spirits.

The officials said they had already, at the time, dismantled two factories, one hidden behind a
children’s playground.

James Koskei, Nacada’s director of compliance and enforcement, further lamented that stringent
action will be taken against all involved.


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