From a distance, they look like normal and descent young men and women dedicated to working and developing the economy of the nation but deep within, they are monsters, hardcore criminals and those who the flow of blood does not scare them provided they get what they want.
Welcome to Mlango Kubwa, one of the fast growing Nairobi suburb, located along Juja Road on your way to Eastleigh. The place, for a visitor, seems peaceful with people of different kinds busy going about with their daily activities. But for the residents, Mlango Kubwa, loosely translated as the Big Door, is a bungalow that harbors all manner of crime from robbery with violence to rape from the bandits that roam freely in the area.
The locals know the members of the gangs but they dare not mention them. They only talk about them in hashed heavy murmurs but away from the ear of any suspicious stranger. Being part of the larger Mathare Slums, Mlango Kubwa has all manner of weird activities happening within and without. The police know about it, some of the daring ones have tried to intervene but the situation keeps on getting worse with each passing day.
According to a report by the National Police Service on Crime Hot Spots Mlango Kubwa features as one of the most dangerous places in Nairobi and tops Kamukunji Constituency. The report says that the most dangerous places within Kamukunji are Mlango kubwa (between Eastleigh, Garage and St. Teresa), Eastleigh (Desai Road Section 3 and 7), Huruma Grounds and around the chief’s place, Mathare North area (near Albadir petrol station), Kiamaiko, Majengo, Ngara; Railway quarters and near Equity Bank, Kasarani. The report goes on to say that the most common crimes at Mlango Kubwa include Car accessories snatching such as side mirrors, luggage stealing, assault, armed robbery, drug peddling, SGBV, kidnapping, mugging, break-ins and rape with the crimes happening anytime of the day.
There are groups of young people at Mlango Kubwa who have divided themselves in groups whose main activities is to take by force what does not belong to them. Armed with crude weapons ranging from knives, machetes, clubs and with some few ‘advanced’ ones guns, the groups injure, kill and steal even in broad daylight as everybody watches. Nobody dares raises a finger on them, less they are the next target and now, Mlango Kubwa is the place where one can be mugged, robbed, injured and even killed as the public watches helplessly. Not that the public fears to counter them but they fear being the next victims during retaliatory attacks.
The gangs are so daring that some of them collect monthly dues in form of ‘taxes’ from business people as well as other residents for ‘protection’. For instance, every house has to pay 50 shillings every month without fail to the leaders of the groups who collect the ‘tax’ while businesses pay between 200 to 300 shillings per month. Those who cannot pay risk their houses being broken into and their businesses being robbed and even being attacked and injured. From the mandatory monthly dues alone, the gangs are making hundreds of thousands of shillings without dropping a sweat as the common residents continue to suffer under their reign of terror.
From a brief documentary, the Zombies of Nairobi, Mlango Kubwa feature prominently as the place with many street families. In the documentary, the interviewees say that they are forced to steal, kill and cause mayhem just to “survive”. They have to buy food and the majority of them, drugs.
Every second, every minute, every hour, crime is going on within Nairobi and the police seem to be overwhelmed. Who is going to save the people of Nairobi from the ruthless gangs that are roaming freely within the streets? Should we just fold our hands and pray?