The events of February 24 are still fresh in Isaac Swila’s mind, nine months later. Swila, a journalist, had been kidnapped in broad daylight on a Saturday, along Nairobi’s Kasarani-Mwiki road while in the company of his cousin, Oliver Ogutu, who has since died.
“I do not want fear to subdue me. I am sharing this so that in future someone should not fall prey to this,” he said.
According to the 2017 Economic Survey, of the 55 people who accused of abductions in 2016, only three were women.
Swila is not just a statistic. He is one of the people who fall prey to abductions by total strangers. According to the 2017 Emerging Crimes: The Case of Kidnappings in Kenya report, 914 people who were surveyed knew of someone who had been abducted by strangers. However, this were fewer compared to the 989 who had heard of cases of kidnapping by an acquaintance or family member.
On the ill-fated day, Swila and his cousin left his Kasarani home to withdraw some cash at a bank. They chose to do it over the counter. It was around 11.40am. The bank was filled with customers. Swila thought that other customers were engaged in their own business, just as he was. But he now says this was the big mistake that set the stage for his ordeal.
An hour later, the two were walking home, carrying the cash, when they were suddenly stopped by a Toyota saloon car with four men inside posing as police officers. As a rule, men make up the vast majority of kidnappers. According to the 2017 Economic Survey, of the 55 people who accused of abductions in 2016, only three were women.
In Swila’s case, the attackers were aged between 30 and 50. They ordered them into the car under the guise of taking them to the nearby police station for questioning, having accused the two of being thugs. The captives were sandwiched between two of the abductors in the back seat, the tinted windows rolled up.
Swila realised something was amiss when the car sped past the police station.
In no time, the attackers snatched the bag with the cash and demanded Swila’s ATM PIN. He tried to resist but he was tortured and strangled. The assault left him bleeding profusely. At this point, the captors were kind enough to give him tissue paper to wipe away the blood, but also cruel enough to plant four bullets in his pocket and put a pistol close to his skin.
“Na uko na mwili mzuri ya risasi. Mtajua maisha yenyu inaisha leo (You have a good body to take a bullet. You will know that your life ends today),” he recalls being told.
Suddenly the vehicle stopped. They were asked to get out and run without looking over their shoulders. This, it turned out, was a calculated move to prevent them from capturing the vehicle’s number plate. They had been dumped way past Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
Despite being warned by their captors and told not to report the ordeal, sharing it with friends or having it published, they still decided to walk into a police station to report the case. However, the police officers were reluctant to record the incident. The only reasonable thing for them to do was to leave. To date,