Almost a month earlier, on September 21st a group of terrorists violently took over the upmarket Westgate mall in what would turn out to be days of terror that would result in more than 60 lives lost. The country watched in horrified amazement that afternoon and deep into the dead of night as the squad of men went in and shot, or blew dozens of innocent lives away.
The siege showed us the twin faces of our nation and most of its people. This devastating attack brought out the best of all that is Kenyan as we found within ourselves bravery and limitless kindness. The Red Cross risked their lives and viewed a most horrifying scene simple to rescue those held hostage inside the local hang out spot. The police were first on the scene and their courage and love for their nation really showed no bounds.
We have long known and accepted that as a nation no matter what the circumstances and how dire the situation may be Kenyans will always take something from it- more often than not the something will be free; whether it is beer from an overturned breweries lorry or the more dangerous fuel petrol from a flipped tanker.
Paying no mind to the obvious danger into which they vigorously plunge themselves Kenyans will be seen - without fail – charging forth like starving wolves that have caught sight of easy prey with buckets, jerry cans and any other container they find at their disposal at the time- readily risking life, possible third degree burns and permanent disfigurement for the free golden coloured liquid.
At the time it seemed to the millions of Kenyans that stayed indoors and were glued to any and all news updates that would become available and the world that the always dependable and heroic KDF (Kenya Defence Force)- a team that often deals with matters international- were brought in to put the matter to bed, charging in tanks, guns and all into an escalating and life threatening situation. The country breathed somewhat of a sigh of relief because their imposing presence meant that the terrible ordeal would finally come to a swift end.That’s what we thought...
As the story went that the Al Shabab had come calling with the aim of causing as much death, pain and destabilization as was possible. And on that Saturday they pointed their riffles at men, women and children of varying ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. There were supposedly anywhere from 10-15 terrorists to contend who varied in age but who seemed to be united in their goal to punish and cause us pain.
The fact that the terrorists were able to get into the mall without their weapons being detected brings into question- for the umpteenth time-the lax nature of the vigilance of the security guards at the entrance of all buildings.
The security checks are too useless for words! I have borne witness to the utter uselessness of these security checks: allow me to digress a moment and give just one example of the waste of time the checks are: I get around with the aid of a crutch when I venture out into the real world. And on the numerous occasions that I’ve entered any public building be it a supermarket, restaurant or an office the guards never fail to amaze me by consistently not checking me or my belongings always letting me through with the now customary wave of the hand. The small bat like devices that come equip with a yellow light for what I guess is metal detection seems to always be on, blinking and emitting a less than pleasant squawk. So on one of these days I questioned one of the guards at an establishment in the heart of the Capital city on the obvious- ‘How would you know when you’ve found a grenade, bomb or other form of weaponry?’ A rather quiet, clenched teeth reply came back: ‘I wouldn’t’ I prodded further with a more obvious question: ‘What does a grenade or bomb even look like?’ Again the same reply came back: ‘I don’t know!’ On seeing his agitation I left my prodding there and went into the building feeling all too vulnerable and unsafe.
The siege was said to have taken close to a week but according to Jicho Pevu and The Inside Story we were all taken for one heck of a rollercoaster ride. The proverbial wool was pulled over not only the eyes of the nation but the world at large.
So there we sat in fidgety anticipation of what eye opening, and afore hidden truths our resident truth hunters had uncovered in relation to the attack on Westgate which is located between the leafy and affluent suburbs of Westlands and Parklands and as always the pair did not disappoint in their expose of what many had long suspected: that we had been duped and bamboozled!
The investigative reports revealed that 4 terrorists entered the mall two at a time. Two from the upper parking lot and in about one minute 25 people among them young children were gunned down. The remaining two terrorist entered through another part of the mall, 3 grenades leading the way after which their random shooting spree commenced. The members of the flying squad were first on the scene and they swiftly got down to saving lives then the highly trained and efficient Recce squad were called in. A squad that received its tactical training in Israel, America and the Uk, are proficient in quickly entering a building, saving lives and dealing with hostages.
20 minutes after they were called they arrived-sufficiently armed- on the scene and in little time had manage to take back control of the top and second floors from the terrorists at about 1.30 the Al Shabab continued their killing spree, all four entered the malls Nakumatt store and continued to kill with reckless abandon. Outside the mall the Al Shabab seemed to have achieved their objective as they captured the attention of the world.As the cctv footage shows the police went through the loading area and saved all those that remained within the malls Nakumatt those left in other shops were saved by the police. By 2pm that day the Reece and the flying squads saved all the hostages from inside the mall, leaving the mall to the terrorist and the Recce squad.
Note: The KDF were yet to even make an appearance onto the scene.
But they did make their entrance... when the job was almost done. They took control of the otherwise empty mall. Their grand arrival in armoured tanks, the 200 strong force walked into the almost deserted mall. A takeover that resulted in the killing of a Reece squad member: Martin Munene Kithinji- who took a bullet from a fellow countryman and the departure of both Recce squad and the flying squad. Thus giving the terrorists time to regroup, partake in their 8 pm prayers and even drink water. Later one of the four terrorists left the mall. It is said that all four left that night.
The following shooting started anew but why if indeed the terrorists had left? Then Israeli forces came in but after seeing the situation they were said to have decided the operation was too small for their talents and opted out.
Well why else? But to rob the Westgate blind. Meanwhile the media were given the same script and song sheet, that of unity, oneness and togetherness. Then Joseph Ole Lenku treated us to yet another confusing jig. Everyone was reading from a different script. Information was coming from different sources.
CCTV Never Lies:As darkness came beers from Art Cafe flowed as the soldiers drank heavily enough to take up almost every inch of counter space in the popular restaurant, then the looting ensued as members of the KDF entered Nakumatt and the still turned on CCTv cameras were there to capture it all in vivid colour. The soldiers can be seen entering with weapons at the ready but each one can be seen exiting with a plastic in hand, bags filled with stolen goods, as though they had just been to the market. Others can be seen going to a corner of the shop taking whatever they want then leaving. At that point Nakumatt was never under any kind of fire.
Next up a jewellery store where one KDF officer tries but fails in his attempts to open a cupboard. Other safes look to have been broken into. Then came the vehement denial from the security parliamentary committee member Asman Kamama that the video footage had ‘confirmed’ that KDF ‘never, ever stole anything from the mall’
Mixed Messages and Worsening Reputations:Fire and smoke could be seen coming from the mall to which Ole Lenku said at a press conference that ‘the terrorists had set fire to some mattresses’- how could that be possible if the terrorists escaped on Sunday night? The wool was being pulled firmly over our eager and believing eyes.
On day three the Al Shaba gave the media footage of their own saying that the end had come and that they had conquered the beast that was the terrorists. Then came the president revealed that the KDF they had managed to kill 5 terrorists and that 61 civilians lost their lives. What the KDF didn’t tell the commander in chief was that there were just 4 terrorists and no more. The journalists then pose the question ‘Who lied to the president?’As the country continued to ask questions of their own and see plainly that 2+2 did not add up to 4 the police and forces went into overdrive to keep the CCTV footage from getting out and further damaging their already smeared reputations and trying to save face by giving the media doctored footage of what happened.
With their actions that brought shame and not honour to the country and all its people the KDF proved that some people would all to advance themselves. So you decide where the KDF misunderstood heroes or simply a pack of hungry wolves?