Here is one of the many incidences where conductors and drivers of Nairobi matatus steal from passengers:
I was robbed yesternight at about 9.45 pm on my way home from work and I lost my phone and laptop. I boarded a 14-seater matatu at Ngong road, a few metres from where we were working from (Morningside Office Park). I did not figure out the peculiar series of events that were happening at the time when they were happening, but after sleeping on it, I can recall, and I am convinced I was robbed. So this is what happened.
The mat came to the stage, and, as I was going to board it, the kondaa asked the fella sitting at the front to go “behind” so that I could sit at the front; so that there was the driver, a passenger and I next to the door. So the door kept opening and the kondaa kept saying, “gongesha na nguvu!”, “shikilia na mikono mbili!” These orders continued for a while, and the fella sitting next to me even helped me shikilia the door more than once. As i did not have cash, and no mpesa shop was open at the time, I sent the kondaa fare via mpesa. It was 20 bob, but I sent him 50 bob.
As the driver negotiated the roundabout from ngong road to valley road, the door swang wide open, and I remember almost falling out, or my laptop. In this commotion, I was only focused on staying put, and holding my laptop. So I managed to get a hold of the door, and the kondaa kept shouting again and again “gongesha na nguvu!”, “shikilia na mikono mbili!” As I “shikiliad,” I believe the fella seated next to me was taking my phone. And I think this was their plan. After a while, the kondaa shouted, “simamisha gari, huyu ameangusha simu!” So I checked both of my pockets, and indeed, I had no phone. The driver drove a few metres before stopping. The kondaa said, “enda uchukue simu.” This was the next big mistake from me. As I rushed to pick my phone, I left my laptop for the fella seated next to me to hold, No sooner had I alighted from the mat, the kondaa shouted again, “enda kabisa, mbali kidogo.” I was more concentrated on searching for the phone that I did not realize when they drove off. When I looked behind, the mat was gone. I searched and re searched the whole stretch, but I could not get my phone. Meaning it was still in the mat. For the next few minutes, I was convinced I was dreaming. So I waited to wake up. But it was not happening. So there I was. No phone. No laptop. No money. Stranded. Negatives.
Even in the darkest of nights, God sent the tiniest of lights. And this light was so consistent. It was in the form an angel called Newton. He saw me holding my head with two hands, and looking dumbfounded and asked, “ni nini mbaya?” I explained the ordeal. In this Nairobi, if I was in his shoes, I would have thought I was lying, or it was some form of treachery. But he did not. He believed my whole story. Gave me his phone to make a phone call. In my confusion, I could not remember any of brothers phone numbers. So I called my parents. But I knew they were asleep, and even if they would have been awoken by the ring of their phones, that they could not recognize who the call was from, they could not pick. Later, I remembered on of my brother’s phone number, but his phone was switched off. Newton allowed me to log in to facebook, and where I got my other brother’s number. I called him, but he did not pick. Everything was a nightmare!
I kept asking him, or rather, thinking aloud, “What do I do now??”
Lastly, I went to my gf’s fb account. and guess what, she was online! I messaged her, hoping that she was indeed online, and not that she had dozed off and left her account on. A few minutes later, she called, sent some money that Newton later gave to me.
During the time I stayed with Newton (close to one hour, he was so patient, I realized I was not a good person, coz if it were me, I could not have stayed so long with a stranger, listening to his unending and endless stories of distraught!), we conversed and he informed me that an almost similar incident had happened to him along the same route, and around the same time. And he had vowed never to use 14-seater mats ever again. His story: he was seated in a mat, and the kondaa asked, !nani ameangusha simu?” and as he was distracted for those few seconds, he suspects that the fella seated next to him robbed him of his phone. Later, he realized he dint have his phone. And he never got it, even after thoroughly searching for it in the mat.
My hypothesis, the thieves wanted to steal my phone, but hit jackpot when I left my laptop.
Positives. I reported the matter to Central Police Station. And this morning, I replaced my simcard, and derived my mpesa statement which shows the kondaa I sent the money is Dishon Wangai Maina , phone number 0710553670.
I thank God I am safe. I thank God for Newton. And I have so many other things to thank God for.
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