NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21 – Efforts to smuggle Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara’s stolen car into Tanzania were foiled on Sunday after it was traced and recovered near the Kibera slum.
Officers from a stolen vehicle recovery firm and the Kenya police managed to retrieve the car, just hours after it was hijacked on the Langata Road-Nairobi West Junction at about 3am. The car was being driven by a friend of the MP’s when the incident occurred.
“He was coming from dropping off a friend and was going home when he joined Langata road. That’s where he was ordered to stop by three men, two of whom were armed,” said Felix Kimeu, a recovery expert with Track It.
“We recovered the car in Jonathan Ngeno Estate, which borders the extensive Kibera slums,” he said, explaining that they picked up the signal within the Kibera area as soon as the report came in and managed to track down the car.
The two occupants in the vehicle lost their personal effects to the thugs, but only suffered minor injuries.
“The information I have is Mheshimiwa was not on board…he (the friend) usually takes the car so there was no cause for alarm,” according to Mr Kimeu, who briefed the media at the Langata Police Station where the car had been towed to.
“Fortunately there was a minor accident on the road and when the carjackers slowed down he managed to escape and raise alarm. A lady occupant was also not hurt but she was dumped in a ditch where she managed to get assistance and ended up coming to the Langata police station.”
Police and stolen vehicle recovery firms reveal that stolen vehicles are mostly smuggled over the border, into the Kilimanjaro area in Tanzania and driven to Moshi, where an international car theft syndicate operates from.
The theft ring, operating in Kenya and Tanzania, has been stealing vehicles from Kenya’s major cities and towns and smuggling them to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Malawi, via Tanzania and Uganda.
A co-ordinated Interpol operation conducted in 2007 in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda netted hundreds of stolen vehicles in the three East African countries.
The spot checks began in Tanzania on April 18; nearly 20 percent of cars inspected were found to be suspect with 29 confirmed stolen, 31 believed stolen and 32 with altered identification numbers.
A week later in Kenya, 107 cars were identified as stolen, including one belonging to the then Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe and several owned by Members of Parliament who said they purchased their vehicles legally from Dubai.
Kenya police at the time said unsuspecting buyers were victims of "complex international crime" that was "depriving innocent people of their hard-earned money and allowing the criminals to smile all the way to the bank."