James is a minor boy aged 9 years hailing from a single parent family. He has two other siblings; an elder brother aged 14 years who is in F/2 and a younger sister aged 9 months. They reside with their mother at the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum. Coming from an unstable background makes him vulnerable to many realities of social, environmental and economic dynamics of life.
The young James was used to supporting his mother with house chores and other minor economic activities. He used to accompany his mother daily to her business venue selling cabbages and charcoal in the vast slum village. On the fateful day in April 202, at around 3.00pm in the afternoon, James requested his mother to allow him to go for football practice at a training ground called Galaxy, not far from their home. Due to the fact that James had a great passion for playing football and a champion player for his team, his mother had no objection hence, she let him go for the practice.
When James’ mother time for business closure was due, she closed at around 8.00pm but without seeing her son return from the football practice. She consoled herself by assuming that he may have decided to go straight back home. At about 9.00pm, she arrived back home but James was nowhere to be found. She rushed to report the matter to the local security team where she was referred to report the matter at the nearest Police station.
James’ case was later referred to the CHTEA office by a Community Health Volunteer based at the Medical Missionaries of Mary – Counter Human Trafficking unit at the St. Mary’s Health Centre. The case was immediately profiled at CHTEA office after which the mother was facilitated to report the case to the Criminal Investigation Department (Child Protection Unit) where she was assisted to locate the telephone number an alleged kidnapper who had been calling from Western Kenya. The mother was further facilitated to travel to her separated husband’s home to confirm if he might have been involved in kidnapping the boy but to no avail.
Fast forward: On 22nd`August 2021, James’ mother claimed that she received a reverse call from her son and after a long chat with him, she alleged that a lady who claimed to be the kidnapper’s sister also spoke to her. During their discussion, the alleged sister offered to sneak the boy (James) back to his mother in Nairobi. The alleged sister further indicated that the kidnapper was allegedly her brother who she claimed was a psycho. The two ladies agreed to meet at Nakuru where the alleged sister would escort and hand over the boy while her alleged brother was away from home attending a burial function. It was not easy to trust the alleged sister to the kidnapper.
Armed with this information, James’ mother was accompanied by a CHTEA staff to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations with one mission: to ascertain the location of the caller. The initial plan was for the mother to travel to pick the boy from Western Kenya the following day. However, this was not to be, as a call was received early morning the same day from the alleged kidnapper’s sister who committed to take the boy up to Nakuru if facilitated with transport. James’ mother and a CHTEA staff took time to consult with the police on the new developments and also to examine security considerations. At the least they did not know that the alleged sister of the kidnapper had already left Western Kenya for Nakuru. As consultations concluded in Nairobi, the alleged sister to the kidnapper called to say that she was already at Nakuru (half way between the kidnapper’s village and Nairobi).
A series of negotiations kicked off with the alleged sister to the kidnapper to ascertain if indeed she had traveled with James. The first card on the table was to quickly express willingness to refund all expenses incurred during the journey. Then a handover discussion was done. As it was not possible to travel to Nakuru at that late hour, it was agreed that Peter be put in to a public transport vehicle headed to Nairobi as the mother and a CHTEA staff waited to receive him. They had allegedly arrived at Nakuru at around 12noon.
As fate would have it, the whole story turned out to be true. At exactly 5.00pm, James’s mother shed tears of joy when she finally spotted her son alighting from the designated public vehicle. He was carrying a back pack and showed he was in good health. She hugged him incessantly for some 10 minutes without believing her eyes.
In the ensuing moments, James (the survivor) recalled how he was called by a stranger from the football field where he had gone to practice. The eventual kidnapper lured him to a corner where he grabbed him and held him tightly by his mouth and warned him not to make any noise lest he kills him. The 9 year old boy decided to cooperate with the kidnapper who in turn took him to his house in Mukuru Kwa Njenga and instructed James to say that he was his father in case he was asked by anyone. On the following day, the kidnapper traveled with James to Webuye, in Western Kenya. According to James, there were other children he found at the same home and who he later learnt had been abducted from other parts of the country.
The main pre-occupation during his stay at the kidnapper’s home in Webuye was to work at his family farm. His main duties included collecting firewood, cooking and washing utensils until late in the evening. Even though he was woken up very early in the mornings to start his duties (alongside other kidnapped boys), he never got to rest for the full day until past midnight. He was not allowed to walk alone and some times he was denied food depending on the moods of the kidnapper.
This case is still under investigation as the kidnapper/trafficker is still at large. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is still working closely with CHTEA with a consideration to eventually arrest the perpetrator.
The victim’s real name has been changed to protect his identity