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Carjackings in Kenyan Capital Bring Insecurity

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Automotive Africa

Carjackings in Kenyan Capital Bring Insecurity

Cathy Majtenyi
Voice of America
Nairobi, Kenya
January 29, 2007

A senior director in the aid agency Care was shot and killed in Kenya's capital Saturday during a carjacking attempt. His death follows the fatal shooting of two American women, also during a carjacking, leading to renewed concerns about violent crime in Kenya. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Geoffrey Chege was a 25-year veteran with Care, heading Care USA's programs in East and Central Africa.

A spokeswoman for Care, Bea Spadacini, describes the circumstances of his death last Saturday night.

"He was coming back from a prayer meeting with another car," she said. "They were in a convoy, and it just so happened that his car was the second car. It was bad luck - wrong guy, wrong time."

Chege's death occurred just hours after two American women traveling in a car with U.S. embassy license plates were shot dead by a gang of four men, two of who were reportedly armed with AK-47s.

VOA was unable to reach the police spokesman for more details or comment.

The latest killings have raised safety concerns among many Kenyans and foreigners.

The director of the public interest group Chambers of Justice, Ababu Namwamba, tells VOA that, officially, police statistics indicate that the number of carjackings and other violent crimes are decreasing in Nairobi and other cities in Kenya.

"But, really, that's not the picture you see," he said. "[You see] the picture of small arms in the wrong hands, which of course is a major concern in this country, the picture of the number of people who are falling victim to violent crime."

Namwamba says he thinks an increase of small arms from neighboring volatile countries such as Somalia and Sudan, the more than 55 percent of Kenyans who live below the poverty line, and a high unemployment rate among youth are driving more and more people into violent crime.

He says the Kenyan government lacks the resources to fight violent crime effectively.

"The ratio of policemen to citizens in Kenya is one police officer for every 800 Kenyans. Now that is double the internationally accepted ratio of one officer per 400 citizens," added Namwamba. "Many of the thugs that are perpetuating violent crime have better arms than our police officers."

In 2005, the U.S. government released a report identifying Nairobi as being what it called the "hub" for the new trend of violent carjackings in Africa.

The U.S. embassy in Kenya had also issued security alerts warning people about violent carjackings.



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