Rongai robbery: Inside Kawangware gang behind daring attack

Kandisi, Ongata Rongai robbery

DCI detective on June 14, 2022 at the home in Manchester Close, Kandisi in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County where a robbery happened on Sunday night. The detectives spent the better part of Tuesday piecing together evidence in pursuit of the perpetrators.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Detectives pursuing the suspected gangsters who were caught on camera robbing a woman at gunpoint as she drove home in Ongata Rongai on Sunday morning are using the cash transactions they made to crack open the case.

The suspects reportedly made quick withdrawals from the victim’s accounts in a rush to spend the proceeds of a crime that attracted nationwide condemnation after the video went viral on Monday.

By last evening, four suspects had already been arrested with detectives looking for two more, including their mastermind who is believed to be a rogue police officer.

“Following the cruel attack, molestation and subsequent robbery of a family in Ongata Rongai recently, police mobilized in real time and continue to conduct and in depth investigation into the heinous crime with an objective of bringing to book all those involved in the robbery with violence,” said police spokesman Bruno Shioso yesterday. 

CCTV captures armed robbers raiding a home in Ongata Rongai

“Four suspects have been apprehended and are aiding the police with investigation. So far they are cooperating and they shall be arraigned in court as per the law,” he added.

Investigations show that the gang that has been terrorising residents of Kandisi is based in Kawangware, Nairobi. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and the Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai had to visit Ongata Rongai on Sunday to reassure residents.

It has also emerged that the gang has been forcing its victims to transfer money from their bank accounts through their phones at gun point to several numbers not registered to them. The money is then transferred to money mules who cash it at M-Pesa agents for a fee.

Apparently, most of these money mules live in the opposite side of town in Kasarani. Their job is to go around M-Pesa shops to withdraw cash and then ferry it to the leader of the gang, who then shares with his members.

By using intermediaries to withdraw stolen cash, the gang may have succeeded for a long time in covering their tracks. This time, however, their rush to get in hard currency, the money they stole over the weekend from Kandisi, has been their waterloo.

A special team from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) put together on the orders of Dr Matiang’i pounced on the first suspect after tracking down his phone number.

Apparently, money had allegedly been transferred to his phone from a bank account belonging to one of the victims from the area who had been robbed a few days before the Sunday incident.

A second suspect, whose name has not been disclosed, was arrested on Monday in Kasarani. This is after forensic detectives noticed some money that had also been transferred from a victim in Kandisi had been withdrawn from an M-Pesa shop in Mwiki, Kasarani, 37 kilometres away.

The suspect whose line was off before the transaction, switched it on for the purpose of withdrawing the money and then switched it off again. On visiting the M-Pesa shop, detectives detained the attendant and told him to direct them to the suspect as he had made a habit of withdrawing huge sums of money from the location.

After being arrested, the third suspect led police yesterday to a house in Kawangware, where they nabbed the fourth one. On searching the suspect’s house, police recovered a browning pistol and two balaclavas believed to have been used in the heist.

Police are detaining all the suspects as investigations continue, hoping that those in custody will aid them to arrest everyone who was involved. The manhunt, which is largely concentrated around Ongata Rongai, has been widened to other areas, especially in Kawangware, where the suspects are thought to have planned their robberies.

“The dragnet is being widened to nab more suspects still on the run. Police are committed to bring them to book,” said Mr Shioso. “The Inspector-General has instructed a crackdown within the areas and environs of Ongata Rongai targeting organised criminal gangs terrorising and robbing law abiding citizens,” he added.

Among the issues being investigated is whether some officers from the local police station may have been aware of the existence of the gang but chose to look away. On Sunday, Dr Matiang’i ordered a mass transfer of officers from Kandisi Police Post.

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