BLACK TUESDAY

Juvenile gangs reign terror on Diani streets

The panga-wielding attackers have taken advantage of the anti-Finance Bill protests to unleash terror on residents

In Summary

• As dusk descends, the air thickens with apprehension, marking the onset of a nightly ordeal for those unfortunate enough to cross paths with these marauding groups.

• In broad daylight, these gangs, have seized control of the streets, instilling fear in the hearts of residents. 

A panga cut survivor Wilson Kinywa receiving treatment at the Msambweni County Referral Hospital in Kwale County on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
PAIN: A panga cut survivor Wilson Kinywa receiving treatment at the Msambweni County Referral Hospital in Kwale County on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

In the tranquil coastal town of Diani in Kwale county, a dark shadow looms over its once-serene streets. 

The peaceful ambiance that once defined Diani’s seaside paradise is slowly being shattered by the menacing presence of juvenile panga-wielding gangs.

With brazen audacity, these gangs have once again unleashed a wave of terror upon residents, instilling fear and uncertainty in their daily lives. 

As dusk descends, the air thickens with apprehension, marking the onset of a nightly ordeal for those unfortunate enough to cross paths with these marauding gangs.

In the face of this escalating crisis, the community finds itself grappling with the daunting question of how to reclaim their security in a place where fear now walks the streets alongside them.

In the past few days, Diani residents have endured a terrifying ordeal at the hands of the juvenile gangs, who have brazenly taken advantage of the anti-Finance Bill, 2024, peaceful protests to unleash chaos.

In broad daylight, these gangs, emboldened by impunity, have seized control of the streets, instilling fear in the hearts of residents. 

Their reign of terror has resulted in numerous serious injuries, inflicted by pangas, leaving victims scarred physically and emotionally.

Mariam* is still grappling with injuries after she was viciously attacked by a gang of around 50 people in broad daylight last Tuesday. 

The shocking incident unfolded right next to Diani police station. 

Mariam endured a brutal assault and was robbed of her valuables, including Sh10,000, her mobile phone and a purse containing important documents.

The terrifying ordeal occurred between 2pm and 3pm, leaving her traumatised and in disbelief.

She recounted how the gang pounced on her with pangas and blunt objects, their onslaught relentless despite her desperate cries for help.

"That day, things spiralled out of control, prompting me to close my business early. Seeking safety, I headed towards the police station. Before I could cross the road, I was suddenly surrounded by the juvenile gang that mercilessly beat and robbed me," Mariam recounted with a shudder.

Her account detailed how the gang arrived with numerous blunt objects and pangas, with some arriving on a motorcycle with their faces covered.

Their inexplicable ability to vanish without a trace remains a baffling mystery.

 Wilson Kinywa, who is recuperating from severe panga head injuries at Msambweni County Referral Hospital, shares a similar ordeal.

Kinywa had just left home for work when a gang of juveniles attacked him at Tsunami in Ukunda at around 3pm on Tuesday.

He was waiting for a matatu to go to work when the juvenile gang armed with pangas, appeared suddenly.

 Kinywa said some of them positioned themselves in the middle of the road, sharpening their weapons, while others terrorised residents.

Their actions caused widespread panic and confusion as bystanders and businesspeople scrambled in different directions to save their lives.

 Kinywa found himself at the mercy of these heartless juveniles as he sought refuge in a local hotel.

He was brutally attacked in a targeted assault that left him unconscious after the first blow from a panga.

They struck him again and again, before robbing him.

Kinywa said it was by the grace of God he survived the attack as the group intended to kill him.

"They broke into the hotel, cornered me and slashed me with pangas all over my body. The pain was unbearable, so I passed out," he said.

Kinywa said the attackers seemed fearless and ruthless, their pangas sharp and intention clear.

He vividly remembers some of the attackers chanting "kill him".

Kinywa said he was rescued almost an hour later by a good Samaritan and was rushed to a nearby private hospital for first aid before he was rushed to Msambweni Hospital for further treatment.

Mwavidzo Gasare is another victim of the panga-wielding gang in Ukunda.

A daylight attack at Msikiti Nuru left him nursing multiple panga wounds after his assailants attacked him, demanding money and his phone.

Gasare recounted how the gang assaulted him, inflicting serious panga cuts to his head, hand, shoulder and legs.

Tabitha Mbesa narrowly escaped a similar fate in Mvindeni around 6pm encountering the armed gang terrorising residents.

She managed to flee in a tuk-tuk but remains deeply shaken by the traumatic experience.

"The image of the armed juvenile gang keeps on coming back in my mind. I was imagining what would have happened to me that day," Mbesa said.

Residents now want the county security to step up efforts in curbing insecurity.

County commissioner Stephen Orinde acknowledged there were a few cases of attacks.

He said the juvenile gangs infiltrated peaceful demonstrations to cause terror on residents.

Orinde, however, said the county security team responded swiftly to address the situation and Diani and the entire county is safe.

"We had some few security challenges occasioned by nationwide anti-Finance Bill protests that were hijacked by thugs. But to make things clear, our police officers responded appropriately and contained the situation," he said.

Orinde said several people linked to the attacks have been arrested and some taken to court.

Mwavidzo Gasare at Msambweni County Referral Hospital after juvenile gang attacked him in Diani, Kwale county, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
HEALING: Mwavidzo Gasare at Msambweni County Referral Hospital after juvenile gang attacked him in Diani, Kwale county, on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Mariam shows her wounds after a juvenile gang attacked her in Kwale county on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
INJURED: Mariam shows her wounds after a juvenile gang attacked her in Kwale county on Thursday, July 4, 2024.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
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