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How once vibrant Nakuru estates have turned into criminal dens

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By FRANCIS MUREITHI

In the good old days, Kivumbini, Kaloleni, Flamingo, Paul Machanga, Baharini and Ojuka estates in Nakuru town were the most sought after residential areas for low income earners.

This was for a good reason.

Unlike other estates, these had all the amenities including round-the-clock water supply at a subsidised cost and a consistent supply of electricity.

Garbage collection was done weekly, making the estates some of the cleanest in Nakuru town, perhaps one of the reasons why it was regarded the cleanest in the region.

In addition, the houses were repainted at least twice a year and security was guaranteed with massive street lights strategically placed.

Residents of the golden 1980s and early 1990s era also remember well-maintained playgrounds for their children.

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Over time, however, heaps of garbage started to appear and today, they have the areas an eyesore.

The estates are now a case study of poor planning and the social and economic implications have made life more difficult for residents.

Thanks to a booming population that has eaten up all the open spaces once reserved for backdoor gardening, makeshift iron sheet structures are a common sighting as some youths live in cubicles away from the parents they shared bedsitters with.

In the estates have arisen some of the deadliest gangs in Nakuru town, including one known as ‘Confirm’, whose members have turned some of the cubicles into their dens.

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A view of Flamingo Estate, Nakuru town, where one of ‘Confirm’ gang’s hideouts is located. PHOTO|FRANCIS MUREITHI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

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INSECURITY

For many residents and visitors to the town, the estates are now no-go zones.

Save for a few cobblers and people roasting maize along roads, the once vibrant shopping centres at Kivumbini and Flamingo estates are lifeless.

“The more disheartening thing is that no investors can put their money here because of the gangs. They will demand a protection fee and there is nothing you can do about it,” said a resident who operated a kiosk in one of the estates.

Other residents, who also refused to be named, blamed security agents and politicians for the increase in crime.

“More worrisome is the nonchalant attitude of security agents in dealing with the criminals, who reign supreme,” said a resident of Flamingo.

“Some politicians offer to pay bonds for criminal gangs and storm police stations demanding for their release,” said a resident of Kivumbini.

“Some bad elements in the police service have turned the gang into A cash cow. Once they arrest them they demand bribes and later release them,’ said a resident of Bondeni.

Nakuru County Commissioner Erustus Mbui Mwenda absolved security agents from blame and cited frustration in their efforts to nail politicians and the criminals involved.

“There is a case in court against a politician who wanted to burn a petrol station. The matter is still pending even though police did their work. You can’t blame police for justice delayed or denied,” said Mr Mbui.

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Kaloleni ‘C’ and Flamingo Phase Two estates in Nakuru twon, which stand next opposite each other and are barricaded with iron sheets due to a surge in crime in the area. PHOTO |FRANCIS MUREITHI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

NEW TACTICS

During a recent county engagement forum organised by Midrift Human Rights Network, to discuss how to prevent and counter violent extremism among the youth, Mr Mbui said the government was aware of all of the gangs’ tricks.

The administrator said members of the “Confirm” gang were using drones to disrupt law enforcement but noted that security agencies were taking the matter seriously.

As authorities seek solutions, residents continue to live in fear that their children will join the gangs.

“You can imagine the mental and psychological trauma most parents face, seeing their children being recruited into these gangs,” said Mr James Kanyotu, a resident of Flamingo Estate.

He said that with the Covid-19 pandemic, and the suspension of learning and other activities, many pupils were being targeted.

“This is a trying time for parents. With the reopening of schools pushed to next year, many are bound to join the gangs,” said Ms Jennifer Achieng’.

Authorities have expressed concerns that primary schools neighbouring the estates, such as Bondeni, St Theresa, Kisulisuli, Flamingo, Kimathi, St Paul’s, Bondeni and Baharini, are easy targets for radicalisation.

A boy in Kaloleni, who identified himself only as Tony, said the inconsistency in county and national government policies surrounding the matter and lack of political goodwill contribute to increased crime in the region.

“Nearly all these estates were constructed before independence and have outlived their usefulness due to a bursting population, but you only hear the government talking big from a distance about expanding affordable housing for the poor. On the ground things are different,” he said.

Another youth said, “These ‘Confirm’ gangsters are smart and well educated youth who cannot even access the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative because of corruption. This forces them to look for alternative means of survival. The only readily available ones are through criminal gangs.”

Midrift Executive Director Joseph Omondi said that to make Nakuru safe and tame crime, the county must implement the action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism.

“These criminal gangs whose membership increases by the day is a ticking time bomb that will explode if no action is taken, particularly as we hit the homestretch to the 2022 General Election,” he said.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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