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Double life? Search for Mwitiki takes new twist : The Standard

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Ten days after he was reported missing Dafton Mwitiki (pictured), a recognisable face in Nairobi’s social circles, remain unaccounted for, as family and friends hold on to hope. They believe he will soon walk back into their lives.
As the waiting continues though, other details have emerged over the other life of the man who set social media alight on one of Kenya’s darkest days when he, together with friend Steve Mbogo, appeared at the scene of a terror attack armed with an assault rifle.
Mwitiki, according to investigators led a double life. The first as a doting father and humorous friend who was always the life of the party. A man who never shied away from lending a helping hand and answering calls from friends in need.
SEE ALSO :DCI intensifies search for missing marksman Dafton MwitikiDark side?
The other image is a complete opposite. A darker shade of the man. Investigators who have also been looking for the man say Mwitiki is one of the key leaders of a brutal, well-organised kidnapping ring responsible for high calibre disappearances in and around the city.
He managed to keep his dark side away from the public to the extent that there is no known incident or time when he was summoned to record a statement with the police.
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Yesterday, Victor Mwitiki, an elder brother of the missing man insisted that the brother was not a criminal and that he lived a simple and honest life.
“We don’t know why anyone would want to harm my brother. He lived such a simple and honest life,” said Victor.
Victor said the investigations have since been taken over by Kilimani DCI. “The search and rescue have been concluded without any results. We are, however, optimistic that Kilimani DCI will unravel the mystery,” he told Saturday Standard on phone.
Confidential sources within the security circles said Mwitiki was living on borrowed time after he was linked to two major cases of kidnap in Nairobi. In one of the incidents that involved a Chinese man, the kidnappers demanded a Sh100 million ransom.
Four suspects among them Administration Police officers were killed by the Special Service Unit officers during a rescue mission on February 29th. The kidnapping of the man got the attention of security agencies including the DCI and NIS. The abducted man according to the DCI was kidnapped from his shop on February 27 by individuals impersonating officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
“Forensic intelligence led the investigating team to Hse no. 2199, where the victim was being held under an armed four-man-guard, who had demanded a $1million (Sh100 million) ransom from his brother to secure his release,” the DCI said via Twitter.
A police pistol and bullets were recovered from a house at Sun Track Estate in Dagoretti where the victim was being held.
Behind the scenes, the confidential sources said, the mobile phone line used to demand ransom was registered in Mwitiki’s name.
This incident is believed to have been the first that lifted the lid of the man believed to have been pulling the strings in the Chinese national kidnapping.
“The callers were using what looked like a sophisticated phone which even the DCI investigators could not trace. It is at this point that NIS came into the probe and helped unravel the behind the scenes actors,” said a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mystery
Prior to this, Mwitiki is said to have been linked to another case of kidnapping where a university student was abducted in Nairobi and a Sh100 million ransom demand made. This matter was reported to Kilimani Police Station on January 13 but the DCI dropped the investigations after the family negotiated with the kidnappers.
Eventually, the family paid Sh4 million to have the relative freed. The sources said the same line registered in Mwitiki’s name was used to demand a ransom.
The 38-year-old father of two, a sharpshooter, and an official of the association of civilian firearm holders was reported missing at Kilimani after he failed to return home on the night of March 11.
His vehicle was traced a day later to an estate in Juja. Mwitiki was last seen near his workplace at Galana Plaza in Kilimani, Nairobi before he mysteriously disappeared.

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Kenya: What Kenya Must Look Out for Before Easing COVID-19 Restrictions

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Kenya’s initial response to COVID-19 was highly praised as effective in suppressing the spread of infections. There is cautious optimism as the country prepares for reopening of schools and economy due to a daily spike in cases and fatalities.

The implementation of public health measures included social distancing and hygiene practices. And a number of non-pharmaceutical interventions were implemented early on. These included the closure of educational institutions and restaurants, the restriction of transport movements, border controls, suspension of international flights, night curfews, intermittent lockdowns and use of face masks in public.

Combined these interventions had a substantial impact in limiting the community transmission of COVID-19. They reduced the potential of human to human transmission since the intensity of interaction reduced overall infections.

The overall impact of curbing the spread of infections has been the key goal. But there is still a need to include economic safety nets to cushion the poor and vulnerable populations while providing security.

And the country has to carefully consider its next steps. There are number of preconditions that need to be met before it should start easing the current restrictions.

Steps to be taken before lifting restrictions

Firstly, there is need for evidence that the virus is being suppressed. This will show that there’s been a plateauing of the epidemic curve. A two week steady decline in the number of newly detected cases would be indicative of limited community transmission.

This downward trajectory – or near zero incidence of documented COVID-19 cases – would need to be accompanied by a decrease in patient visiting hospitals with influenza like illnesses.

Secondly, the government must ensure that there’s robust public health capacity system in place. This would include the ability to detect, test, track, isolate and quarantine cases and quickly contain the epidemic. There are efforts to recruit 5000 additional health care workers to support in response to the epidemic. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) shortages for healthcare workers should be addressed.

The health system capacity should be able to contain the virus and treat all new cases with the human and technological capacity to mitigate increased transmission. There are notable efforts in investing in the state of the art diagnostic laboratories. These have high throughput potential for detection of high impact pathogens and can rapidly respond to public health emergencies of international concern.

Thirdly, to reopen or restart the economy is a long-term process. It needs to be done sequentially. A multisectoral and consultative forward-looking approach needs to be adopted. The main aim must be to protect citizens’ health, as well as mitigage the worst effects on the economy.

Fourthly, Kenya must remember that there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach that countries can copy. The country should keenly watch and learn from countries that have started lifting social distancing restrictions. And be ready to reimpose restrictions if, as happened in South Korea and France, a second wave of cases were reported.

Fifthly, the government must consider the fact that people are becoming more anxious. This suggests that reopening should not be hurried and should not be done in a prescriptive way. Room must be left for flexibility.

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Sixth, steps need to be taken so that workplaces can make the various readjustments to maintain high hygiene standards. And the use of facemasks and sanitisers should be sustained in some places that are high risk.

Lastly, a robust targeted testing regime that will employ a mobile app based surveillance for reliable contact tracing should be rolled out nationally.

School closures have been effective in enhancing community-level social distancing and reducing the peak incidence of infections. In turn this has lessened the pressure on health services. Going forward, a staggered reopening of educational institutions is highly recommended where the arrival and drop-off times or locations of pooled bus transport should be monitored to limit direct contact with parents and employees.

The role of science