CROCODILE PITS

Chilling stories of the forcibly disappeared who lived to tell their tales

Pits of of biting termites, crocodile pits, fields of rotting body parts and blackened torture chambers .

In Summary

• Tales of torture, bodies strewn about and and crocodile pits in Guantanamo Bay-like camps are cited by victims. 

• The majority are afraid of even telling their stories for fear of being victimised again, going through the anguish again and maybe being killed.

 

Activists protest against extrajudicial killings and forcible disappearances in Kwale in August 2020.
JUSTICE: Activists protest against extrajudicial killings and forcible disappearances in Kwale in August 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

Over the last few years, tens of forcible disappearances have been reported in Kenya by institutions including HAKI Africa.

They take place in various areas, mostly at the Coast and Northeastern.

Many are suspected terrorists, police say, but deny their are engaged in illegal abductions and torture.

Many families in many communities are suffering the pain of having their loved ones taken away and not knowing whether they will ever see them again.

Many women do not know if they are widowed or still married. Their lives are at a standstill, they don't know whether to move on or hold on to hope of reunions.

Most of those forcibly disappeared never return. They remain statistics.

However, a few do come back and live to tell of their ordeals. Most tell horrific stories that most mwananchi only know of through movies.

Most victims are afraid to tell their stories, for fear of being victimised again, going through anguish again or being killed.

A few have mustered the strength to describe their nightmares.

To  protect their safety, their identities cannot be made public. However, we can share what they went through so Kenyans can understand what is happening in their country.

In many cases, individuals are picked from their homes or along the way as they drive, ride or walk. After being picked, they are always blindfolded immediately and taken to torture camps with chambers and pits.

Those who pick and interrogate them are usually Kenyans, but some are foreigners.

Individuals report massive torture. A man was thrown into a pitch-black room where he was beaten senseless with rungus, kicks and blows.

He said his abductors and torturers must have been wearing night-vision goggles as they could follow him as he ran wildly around the room, running into walls from time to time.

Another man reported being thrown into a pit containing thousands of huge termites that bit him until he passed out. When he came to, his entire body was bitten and swollen. Standing, sitting and lying down were very painful.

Yet another man said he was forced to stand at the edge of a pit of hungry, snapping crocodiles. His tormentors used a long stick to poke and push him toward the pit as they asked him questions.

The crocodiles jostled each other in anticipation, their jaws open - indicating they were used people being pushed into their pit. He wept profusely and pleaded his innocence.

In another case, a man was blindfolded and driven deep into a grassland. When the vehicle stopped and the blindfold was removed, he reported seeing rotting body parts strewn about.

He was asked whether he wanted to be shot dead and left to the lions or handcuffed to a tree and left for the big cats.

The fact that these stories are being told means these individuals were eventually released. Finally, their abductors considered them innocent.

Some of the victims were informed theirs was a case of mistaken identity.

However, the physical and psychological torture endures.

It is shameful these acts are happening in a country like Kenya that boasts of being of being guided by rule of law. It is time we spoke about forcible  disappearances and demand they be put to an end.

Those in authority must explain why this is happening in our beloved country.