, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – It started like any other day. The G4S crew picked them up from their Dagoretti camp and headed to their headquarters to receive their assignments before moving to the Westgate Shopping Mall for duty.
Little did they know that September 21 was not like any other day. It was the kind of day boys imagine when they play cops and robbers; shooting bad guys and taking cover. Except in this case, the bad guys shot back with real bullets.
But at this point in the story, all they knew was that they were to escort money from the Safaricom shop in the mall to the bank but when they got there at around 10.30am, the shop attendants weren’t ready so they moved on to the MP Shah Hospital then came back at around at 11.30am.
They drove in through Nakumatt supermarket’s loading bay with Administration Police Constable (APC) Wilfred Kavati in the lead vehicle and with APC Ali Niraj riding in the chase car alongside Sergeant Samson Biwott.
Kavati and Niraj accompanied the G4S crew commander and the driver of the lead car into the mall leaving Biwott, the driver of the chase car and the radio operator behind.
This time the Safaricom shop attendants were ready for them and so Kavati and Niraj stood guard at the doors while the G4S team got the cash.
It was while they were standing outside the shop that they heard gunfire coming from the main mall entrance and instinctively sought cover behind some pillars.
“It must be thieves,” Niraj shouted to Kavati over the gunfire.
To get a better view, he supported himself on the base of the pillar and he saw two men in bullet proof vests, with black scarves around their heads, AK47s in their hands and with magazine stacks around their waists.
Now they weren’t so sure. Were the two men thieves or part of the Recce squad?
“I wouldn’t want to shoot a police officer,” Niraj thought and so he lifted himself up on the pillar again and waved.
“If they’re police they’ll signal back and if they’re not, well, either way I’ll know,” he thought.
And his answer was bullets fired in his direction.
Both Niraj and Kavati had standard issue G3 rifles on them and so they returned fire.
The attackers tried to come up the escalators to the first floor where they were, but they managed to keep them at bay and soon lost sight of them.
“I assume they must have gone into Nakumatt and I think I got one in the leg,” Niraj told a Nairobi court on Friday.