Female motorist: I was assaulted, robbed as mob recorded

Boda menace

A screenshot of the incident.

Photo credit: Courtesy

An accident that shocked Kenyans would have gone unnoticed if not for a short video clip that was uploaded on social media early this week.

The extremely disturbing one-minute footage shows an angry mob of boda boda riders descending upon a terrified female driver, who can be heard helplessly screaming for help, got the attention of the President.

In a police report filed on Friday at the Parklands Police Station after the incident, the victim is not identified for legal reasons.

The report says she was involved in a road accident on Wangari Maathai Road at 5pm on Friday, but the matter did not come to the limelight until a short clip started circulating on social media on Monday.

According to her statement, a boda boda rider blocked her car abruptly, forcing her to crash into it and leaving the rider with a broken leg.

The motorist, whom nation. africa learnt is an employee of a United Nations agency, stopped a few metres from the scene but was mobbed by a group of riders, some of whom tried to rob her.

This forced her to take off, but stopped a few metres away.

The riders raced after her and blocked her car.

They then opened her car door, with some of them robbing her of her personal effects.  

All she could do was scream for help.

One of the riders, all this while, was recording her ordeal.

Half-naked, she was later rescued by a traffic police officer who was alerted by other motorists.

On Tuesday, detectives revealed the identity of the main suspect in the sexual assault.

The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti said the mastermind, identified as Zacharia Nyaora Obadia, was unmasked through digital forensics at the modern lab.

“The mastermind of the despicable sexual harassment incident that has attracted countrywide condemnation has finally been unmasked,” DCI said.

Mr Kinoti said the suspect escaped a police dragnet on Tuesday evening but was positively identified by his wife.

“The suspect has also been positively identified by his wife and other relatives in his rural home, sexually assaulting the victim in the widely shared videotape. It is only a matter of time before we arrest him,” he said.

The suspect was given 24 hours to surrender alongside his accomplices, who have all been identified, according to the DCI.

The incident caught the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who ordered a crackdown on all boda boda operators in Nairobi and across the country.

Mr Kenyatta also ordered all boda boda riders to be registered afresh as he cautioned leaders against politicising the issue.

Speaking at the International Women's Day celebrations at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, President Kenyatta said the crackdown should not be seen as targeting small businesses but to restore sanity in the sector.

"I want to refer to the video circulating. It was disheartening and it was only one of these incidents shown. I have ordered a crackdown on all boda boda operators starting here in Nairobi and moving across the country,” he said.

“I know we are in the busy season of politics, and some will say the government is harassing small business owners. There is no such thing."

The order came after more than 200 boda boda riders were arraigned on Tuesday in a court in Milimani, Nairobi, for flouting traffic rules.

Appearing before Senior Principal Magistrate Esther Kimilu, the riders were charged with riding a motor vehicle on or through pavements meant for pedestrian use only.

Court documents revealed that they committed the offence on March 8 at 9am on Parklands Road in Nairobi.

The accused were each slapped with fines ranging between Sh30,000 and Sh35,000.

Acting Nairobi Regional Police Commander James Mugera said that 913 motorcycles had been impounded and 229 riders arrested.

Mr Mugera said the operation against the boda boda riders breaking traffic rules will continue.

“We will not stop in this drive. We will ensure sanity reigns,” he said.

President Kenyatta added that his administration has been at the forefront in supporting the boda boda sector but this should not be seen as being complicit in the criminal activities of bad elements hiding in the sector.

“Riding a boda boda is not a licence to do drive-by shootings, and most definitely for you to strip and remove dignity from our women. We want to support our boda bodas, but even these women are your customers. Treat them with respect,” he said.

Police are hunting for all riders who were caught on camera assaulting the woman so that they can be prosecuted.
Several government agencies and human rights bodies have condemned the assault and pledged to help the woman get psycho-social support and witness protection as investigations into the matter proceed.
Under county laws, boda boda riders are banned from operating in the city centre, with only those transporting goods exempted.
“Pursuant to the provisions of the Traffic Act CAP 403 of 2014 of the Laws of the Republic of Kenya, the Nairobi City County Government wishes to inform all motorcycle (boda boda) operators ferrying passengers to and from the Central Business District (CBD) that such activities have been banned with immediate effect,” said a notice from City Hall.
A boda boda operator said there are rogue elements in their ranks but the whole industry should be condemned. He added that banning their operations from the CBD was ill-advised.
“The incident happened outside the CBD. Why are we being victimized? Yes, I know there are a few riders who misbehave but the majority don’t, this is our livelihood,” he said.
Some city residents who spoke to the Nation urged the government to offer the boda boda operators an alternative place to work.
“Yes, they sometimes cause accidents and drive recklessly but they also have families to feed,” Joan Muriuki said, suggesting to the authorities that “they should provide an alternative place to work or demand their retraining”.
Boda boda riders have for a long time resisted efforts to eject them from the city centre and on several occasions have engaged county askaris in cat-and-mouse games.
The boda bodas also seem to be supplanting taxis as they offer cheaper services in the city centre, with a ride costing between Sh100 and Sh200, making them the preferred choice of many people.
Though the number of motorcycles has increased in the city centre, the county government has not designated parking slots for them.