Bondeni, the Nakuru slum with deadly mix of criminal gangs and hard drugs

Injured people gather to protect themselves against attacks by members of the notorious Confirm gang in Bondeni, Nakuru city on May 11, 2022. 

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen I Nation Media Group

There is a common phrase in Nakuru that there is more illicit brew than water in Bondeni slums.

This is because the populous informal settlement is the undisputed de facto capital of illicit brews and hard drugs in the region.

An investigation by the Nation reveals that besides being the home of hard drugs and illicit liquor, which are sold even in food kiosks, the estate is a haven for the Confirm gang and other criminal groups that have been terrorising residents of Nakuru.

Nakuru County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo parading the suspect Dickson Macharia Waithera, alias Deco after his arrest. 

Photo credit: Jepkoech Rotich I Nation Media Group

In the past month, several gang members have been smoked out of their hideouts in the area and arrested.

In Bondeni estate, the high rate of lawbreaking in broad daylight is visible even to people visiting for the first time.

But Bondeni is not alone.

The neighbouring slums of Kivumbini and Flamingo are the other dens of criminal gangs in Nakuru.

Confirm gang suspects

Suspects in the Mawanga murders in Nakuru City: Julius Otieno, Josphat Simiyu, Dennis Mmbolo, Isaac Kinyanjui will be charged on Tuesday

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Chang’aa, the poor man's drink, and other adulterated liquors are also considered cash crops in Bondeni, Kivumbini and Flamingo.

This is what fuels life in the informal settlements.

"Though police have profiled the informal settlements as crime hotspots, they are still safe havens for brewing chang'aa and busaa, as well as selling drugs including bhang. Even hard drugs like cocaine and opium are sold here," said John Kimani, a resident of Bondeni.

Unlicensed outlets selling adulterated and unlicensed liquor have also found home here.

The majority of youths in these areas are unemployed, and they keep by using or selling drugs or both.

When darkness sets in, some of the informal settlements are no-go zones.

A resident of Kivumbini, who sought anonymity, said the slums have in the past years evolved into impregnable crime fortresses.

"Many criminal gang members have over time found the informal settlement areas safe havens to hide and conduct their criminal activities,” he said.

“In fact, Kivumbini, Flamingo and Bondeni have been the de facto capitals of the dreaded Confirm gang and other illegal groups. But with the ongoing operation that was a month ago sanctioned by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, things are better.

"But the areas are still criminal dens and home to illicit brew and adulterated alcohol."

It is in Kivumbini that alleged Confirm leader Dickson Macharia Waithera, alias Deco, 35, was smoked out and arrested on Wednesday.

Nakuru County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo said the suspect was arrested following a tip-off from the public.

"Police conducted a sting operation and arrested Deco. More gang members are on the police radar; we will apprehend them soon. We will continue with our operation until all criminals are wiped out," he said.

Mr Waithera, he said, took over the leadership of the gang following the death of his elder brother who went by the name Biggie.

"We have information that Deco has been holding a series of meetings in Kivumbini attended by hundreds of youth as he continued to strengthen the criminal gang," the police boss said.

The Confirm gang has over time spread its tentacles across several informal settlements and beyond.

During Deco's arrest police also seized a consignment of bhang worth over Sh300,000, opium and laptops, which police said will undergo a forensic analysis.

Security authorities in Nakuru link the hard drugs business to surging crime in the region.

Deco's elder brother Biggie, according to investigators, founded Confirm sometime in 2007, before it evolved into the deadly gang it is today.

Gang members sell narcotics and engage in other criminal activities.

For years, Deco enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, disguised as a businessman in the populous Kivumbini estate.

By the time of his arrest, Deco had recruited thousands of young people into the criminal group.

Residents of the informal settlements say security agents should go for the drugs and illicit brew dealers if they are to win the war against crime in the areas.

"Most of the youth who engage in crime do so under the influence of drugs and illicit brew," said Diana Otieno.

The Confirm gang, whose activities cover slums including Kivumbini, Bondeni, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni, Bondeni and others, has operate with impunity, terrorising residents of Nakuru city and its environs.

The gang, which was in December 2016 listed by former Interior Cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery as one of more than 90 outlawed gangs, swindles residents by obtaining money fraudulently through mobile money transfer services.

Members of the gang are also responsible for robberies and muggings.

However, about 200 suspected members of the gang have been arrested in a crackdown sanctioned by CS Matiang'i.

Most of the suspects were charged with various counts including murder.

Early last month, six suspects, including Evans Kebwaro, were arrested over the murders of women in Mawanga, Bahati.

They were linked to Confirm and face murder charges.