Kenya is still coming to terms with the heinous attack of the recent DusitD2 complex. In the wake of all this, there are families that will continue to hurt, for their loved ones are no longer with them. Many more are still dealing with the trauma of being so close to death.
On the evening of Saturday, January 12, 2019, father and son, Mr Zachariah Amusala and Mr Dedricks Lemisi, spoke on phone about the death of Mr Lemisi’s uncle, who had died a few days earlier, and his body was in the mortuary at Mukumu hospital in Kakamega County.
The conversation ended with the two promising to reconnect later on, over the funeral arrangements.
Fast forward, two days later, the story unexpectedly took a cruel and painful turn. The two will never speak to each other again, for Mr Amusala, 75, lost his 47-year-old son in the terrorist attack at the exclusive DusitD2 Hotel in Westlands, Nairobi.
“It was, and it is still difficult to comprehend and accept the quick turn of events. It is sad how one moment we were conversing on issues about our family and the next, he is gone forever,” Senior Amusala says, regarding his son’s sudden death.
According to Mr Amusala, his son, the family’s main breadwinner, was at his work station in the CCTV control room of the ill-fated DusitD2 Hotel. He says he got to know how his son died from his work-mates.
Given the nature of his job, Mr Lemisi was among the first to realise that the complex was under siege.
His surviving colleagues say he immediately sprang into action, trying to get those around him out of danger. When he thought he had led everyone he could to safety and now ought to leave the premises, he realised that one of their managers was still missing and most probably stuck in the grenade explosions and raging gunfire inside the complex.
National Disaster Management Unit Instant Commander Pius Masai (centre) Kisii County director disaster management Julius Tinega (Left) National chief Quantity surveyor Moses Nyakiongora (Right) during a press conference in Kisii town on Sunday October 15, 2017. PHOTO| FILE
“That’s when he rushed back to the building to try and rescue his boss. Unfortunately, both did not make it. They were felled by the attackers’ bullets,” recounts Mr Amusala.
The family of Bernadette Akinyi, a revenue director at DusitD2 Hotel recounts a similar tale. She was felled by the assassin’s bullet while trying to rescue her workmates. Through her quick and brave actions, she managed to guide guests and colleagues to safe exit points.
She saved many, but died after a bullet pierced her face, killing her on the spot, as she tried to call her boss. The two were among some 21 others who lost their lives in the attack that captured global attention on January 15.
Lucky to be alive Many others, like Ezra Kimondo, are thankful to be alive. It was business as usual for Mr Kimondo, the head of Customer Service at Brighter Monday on the fifth floor of Grosvenor Building in the complex.
At the office, he went about assigning duties and tasks, and organising the day’s work flow. Later in the afternoon, he went out for lunch and had embarked on the second part of his duties when around 3pm, all hell broke loose.
“No one saw it coming. First there was an uneasy calm. Then a blast, followed by three explosions. Chaos set in, with people running in every direction as shots rented the air. The gunshots coming from the exit forced us back to the building’s first floor, where everyone again scattered in different directions,” Mr Kimondo narrates.
After the gunfire became unbearable, he says, they resorted to messaging their loved ones through WhatsApp and Twitter so as not to expose their locations to the attackers.
“I first texted my father who told me to stay calm until the police come,” he recounts.
His colleague at the firm, Mr Victor Bwire, says that just before the blasts, he saw two men enter the hotel complex. One was slim and the other well-built. Both were in civilian attire, but carrying guns.
At first, Mr Bwire thought they were plainclothes policemen, but then something about them struck him as strange. They started firing at people in the building and that was when he realised they were not policemen, but terrorists.
Ms Faith Chepchirchir was visiting someone at the complex when its calm and serenity was suddenly replaced by gunshots, grenade blasts, and cries for help. She first thought it was a bank robbery, but when the chaos persisted, she realised she was in the middle of a terrorist siege.
Quick thinking led her and others to lock doors and hide under office desks, and luckily, the police reached them before the attackers.
Security consultant and head of Executive Protection Services, Mr George Musamali, says there is need for people to be trained on what to do in case of a terrorist attack.
He explains that undergoing active shooter drills, the same way fire drills are done for people to learn how to assimilate the situation, is vital.
This, he adds, will create alertness on how to react in a shoot-out. Besides that, there is need to have assembly points for different scenarios so that people can know where to gather in such instances.
There are no standard procedures when dealing with a bomb or an active shoot-out situation. His advice is that for every situation, one needs to know the mode of operation of the attackers to decide how to act, Mr Musamali further explains.
“Looking at the case of the DusitD2 attack gives the impression that many did not know what to do, as evidenced by the many short messages I received from people inside the building asking me what they were supposed to do,” he says.
Securex Agencies Limited CEO Tony Sahni says that people should take time to note the evacuation plan and emergency exits of their workplaces in case of an emergency.
Tony Sahni – CEO Securex Agencies (K) LTD. PHOTO| COURTESY
“Be aware of access routes, entrance and exit points when visiting a public facility, in case you need a speedy exit,” he says, adding that should one find themselves at cross fire, they should listen to instructions from the emergency response, who could be law enforcers, fire-fighters or other authorities, and trust them, for they have the expertise, equipment and a better sense of how to deal with such situations.
Mr Musamali explains that in an active shoot-out that creates a fight-or-flee response, the first action should be to get out of the scene as quickly as possible, using the safest route. But when cornered and there seems to be no way out, look for somewhere to hide.
“If you are in an office and know you cannot get out, lock the doors, stay away from windows, and use anything within the room — desks cabinets or chairs — to block the door. Attackers are always in a hurry and hardly have the time to struggle with barriers, unless you are their specific target and they know you are in there. So lie low, keep calm and wait for help,” he says.
He also warns against putting out information on where one is, especially on social media because one never knows who will get this information and use it. Same advice applies to making phone calls with Mr Musamali recommending that one should instead text or use other communication applications to inform only people they can trust. He also recommends use of emergency numbers to communicate to the right people.
He adds that if you have a child in the same room, try your best to keep the young one calm so that it does not scream, which could attract the attackers.
When outside the building under attack and you find yourself face to face with the terrorists, and there is nowhere to hide, then you have no option but to take off or fight for your life.
“However, not all situations will demand that you fight. Some terrorist groups do not take any hostag-es, so if they attack, their motive is to kill. If you can, fight by using any means available to remain alive,” he says.
Terrorists are paranoid and get afraid when they realise one is putting up some resistance, he says. “If they panic and do something absurd, disarm them if you are able to, or find an opportunity to get away. A gun fires only in a straight line and so if you are able to get hold of it and direct it elsewhere, even if it fires, it will not hit you.”
Personal safety first However, Mr Sahni differs with Mr Musamali on confronting terrorists. He warns that this should be avoided confrontation with the terrorists as it could increase the likelihood of provoking a negative reaction from the attackers. Instead, look for a suitable place to hide. “Fight only as a last resort, if you can.”
Mr Musamali advises against going back to rescue friends or belongings once you have escaped, saying, one’s safety is paramount.
“You should overlook saving other lives as there are other experienced people, the first responders, trained for such situations who will take over and help them. Even police will keep off when they find themselves in situations where their lives are at risk and they are not able to reach you,” he says.
Emergency and disaster specialist and former communication officer and deputy director of National Disaster Management Unit (NDMU) Pius Masai says if one finds oneself in a terrorist attack, he or she should run as far away as possible for safety. If that is not possible, one should hide, lock doors and windows, switch off any lights, and prepare to fight if the attacker finds you.
“Put your phone on silent mode, communicate to an emergency number -999, 911, 112, or any other, or a police officer, colleagues, relatives or friends. Listen to their feedback, stay calm until rescued or the situation returns to normal,” he recommends.
Mr Musamali advises that if an attack happens when one is running, go down, and look away from the direction of the explosion, such that the blast comes from behind, to protect your head.
“If inside a building, we advise one to open their mouth because the blast could damage the ear-drums. The blast will usually cause a vacuum and when air rushes back in to fill that vacuum, it causes harm, such as damage to the eardrums. Opening the mouth reduces that impact.”
Mr Sahni further advises that one should lie on the ground facing downwards, cover the head with the arms, cross the legs and keep the mouth open to balance the pressure and protect the eardrums. If possible, he adds that one should crawl under a solid structure, such as a table, for protection against falling debris.
If an individual is trapped in a room, or is buried under debris, the best thing it to avoid panic. Try to breathe through a fabric, like your own clothes, even as you try to signal for help by banging on a sur-face. Screaming for help could result in inhaling harmful substances.
Seeking emotional support from experts helps in the healing process
Clinical psychologist Riziki Ahmed of Hidaya Timeless Solutions, says that incidents like the DusitD2 one can cause immense trauma to those caught in between the attackers.
“One can also get vicarious trauma through the narratives, for instance, when at home watching the scene on TV, seeing what is posted on social media and also reading the description,” she says.
She adds that trauma may cause irritating flashbacks of what they witnessed or experienced, which could lead to sadness over time and lose of interest in the day-to-day activities.
“Some become hyper-vigilant. They enter a restaurant and first thing they do before sitting, is to check the exit door. All these can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Psychologist Winnie Kitetu. PHOTO| COURTESY
She recommends debriefing and counselling sessions, if the situation persists.
Another clinical psychologist Winnie Kitetu of Aga Khan Hospital explains that traumatic events such as terrorist attacks often result in a myriad of emotions ranging from fear and anxiety, and maybe even cause anger and confusion as the victims struggle with nightmares and flashbacks in what is called Acute Stress Disorder (ASD).
Hence, priority within the first 24 hours of the event is psychological first aid, which entails listening and being physically present for the subject, but taking care not to repeat what happened to avoid re-traumatising them. Psychological support should not be ignored, because if mental assessment is not done, then the ASD could develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]
“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank. The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain.
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone
Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.
Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.
ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.
Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.
Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.
A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.
Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.
The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.
Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.
“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.
In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.
“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.
“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”
The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.
Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.
The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.
They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.
The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.
Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.
As part of aggressive campaigns for his presidential bid, the DP, who views the former Prime Minister as his main challenger in the 2022 polls, will begin his tour in Migori and Kisumu in the third week of July, and thereafter Homa Bay and Siaya in the last week.
The DP has rolled out a ground operation that includes United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party and aspirants’ regional forums, regional economic forums, allowing affiliate political parties to sprout without the demand that they merge with UDA and assembling a wide array of professionals to front his presidential bid.
In a politically changed environment unlike the one in 2017 when he was an influential voice in government and the chief campaigner, DP Ruto now finds himself technically being the head of the opposition after the acrimonious fall-out with the President.
The relationship has worsened further after President Kenyatta’s truce with the ODM leader, his main challenger in the 2017 disputed presidential vote, thus alienating the DP further.
His allies say he’s building the infrastructure that will help him win decisively in the first round in next year’s presidential election.
Leading the preparations for the DP’s Nyanza tour is Mr Odinga’s former aide, management consultant and strategist Eliud Owalo, who is also the convener of the Luo-Nyanza Economic Caucus.
Yesterday, he said the DP will start his Nyanza tour in mid-July for what he termed an intensive grassroots tour aimed at campaigning for his presidential bid.
“The leader of the Hustler movement, Deputy President William Ruto, will make an intensive grassroots tour of the four Luo-Nyanza counties within the second half of the month of July.
In the two-legged tour, he will first visit Migori and Kisumu counties in the third week of July 2021 followed closely by a tour of Homa Bay and Siaya in the fourth week of July 2021,” read a statement sent to newsroom, which Mr Owalo signed.
Apart from the meet the people tour, the DP is expected to attend church services as well as continue with his economic empowerment programmes for youth and women groups.
The DP is expected to use the tour in his political opponent’s backyard to popularise his bottom-up economic model.
The region has always voted overwhelmingly for the ODM chief in the past elections.
“We want the Luo Nyanza region to lay its stake in any future governance dispensation on the basis of a responsive and feasible development agenda for our people as opposed to positions that individual members of the community will be holding in that government,” Mr Owalo said.
The DP started courting the region last year when Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi hosted more than 100 youths from Nyanza under the umbrella of “Nyanza Youth Movement for Ruto 2022” led by Mr Stephen Midenyo aka Mada and 2013 Rangwe Parliamentary candidate Everest Okambo.
A year ago, as part of a broader plot targeting the region, Mr Sudi and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro made a discreet visit to Bondo and Kisumu counties in what they described as “private functions” but which had a strong political inclination.
A week ago, Migori governor Okoth Obado, who is viewed as a rebel in the region, was hosted by Mr David Ruto, the DP’s brother.
The plan, Mr Sudi says, is to target the youth, women’s groups and the church to reach out to the Nyanza populace and lure a significant number of voters to join DP Ruto’s bandwagon.
“We’re reaching out to the whole country because the hustler movement is not confined to a certain region,” Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono told the Nation.
A meeting convened by Mr Owalo at a Nairobi hotel in mid-May had many former foot soldiers of Mr Odinga attending. They include those who decamped after losing ODM nominations in 2013 and 2017 elections, among them former Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, former Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno and former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo.
Also in attendance was Citizen’s Convention Party (CCP) leader Grace Akumu.
UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina told the Nation that in their recruitment drive, Nyanza is not left out. The party’s clerks, she said, are stationed in the region.
Won’t bear fruit
Mr Odinga’s troops led by Suba South MP John Mbadi have been on record saying that such meetings won’t bear fruits for the DP.
Mr Mbadi said the DP needs to understand why people of Nyanza associate with ODM and believe in Mr Odinga. The DP is also said to be making inroads in Mr Odinga’s other support bases of Western and Coast.