We just learned that last weekend, a friend of my husband has had a robbery and lost everything. All of his possessions. I call this man my husband’s ‘boyfriend’ as they spend long weekends and evenings laughing and joking together. In fact he’s actually trained mechanic who moonlights from his day job to work here fixing up our rally car, kit car and other toys for some spare cash.
He only speaks Swahili and is a salt of the earth type. It’s pretty tragic that someone broke into his house (or more likely room) and took everything, from his clothes to cutlery to shoes to his most prized possession, his tv. This week he’s been busy trying to find a new place to live.
For our part, we’ve been looking through our wardrobe for clothes and shoes to give, but it’s hard as he’s a small guy and with the same size waist as me, but bigger feet. I’ve picked out the most asexual clothes possible of mine (i.e. jeans) and hope that a few things will fit. My husband has donated a precious pair of shoes, which I hope will do and which were, to be honest, were always too small for him.
I’ve heard a story like this before where a friend’s nanny in Tanzania was somehow gassed in her sleep at home by robbers during the night and her house was then looted. She woke up to find nothing left. Not even clothes to put on. Everything has a value. In a burglary in Europe you might loose a tv, laptop or some antiques, it’s unusual to hear of cases where nothing is left behind.
It is rough that people who are holding down a stable job and are viewed to have a little spare cash to afford one luxury or two are targeted and robbed of everything. These are the people who cannot afford cars, security guards and might only be protected by a padlock on the door. It is often assumed that the expats and wealthy Kenyans are assumed to be the only victims of crime but the truth is that the problem filters right down to the lowest level. The bank teller once told me when I was drawing cash that she had been held up at gunpoint in her home and burgled a year ago.
Another shock was to see all the corrugated iron ‘dukas’ (shops/stalls) being systematically destroyed yesterday by the city council. Street vendors are often targeted in government’s ‘clean up’ campaigns and it was tragic to see people trying to salvage what was once their livelihood from the wreckage. The shops and stands sold affordable vegetables, fruit, sodas and roasted corn to commuters at the mini bus stand around Karen roundabout. I asked a nearby shop assistant why she thought the dukas outside were being destroyed. She said; ‘someone must have complained. These places can be unsafe and can shelter thieves and lowlifes, there have been muggings there. If someone complains to the city council, they come quickly and destroy everything.’
Later I discovered the real reason for the clear up, the stalls were illegally situated on a privately owned plot and the space is now being cleared for planned redevelopment. However, it is often the case that roadside shops and stands are smashed up if, for any reason, they are reported to the city council.