When I boarded the matatu headed for my rural home in Nyeri that fateful day in 2001, it never crossed my mind that there was such great horror ahead for me and the other female passengers in that vehicle.
If anything, it had been very reassuring that a thorough search had been carried out on all passengers prior to our boarding the matatu at the popular Nyamakima bus stage, in downtown Nairobi. Matatu-jackings had become too common and this precaution was very re-assuring because it meant that there was nobody onboard carrying a gun.
The journey was uneventful until we were a few kilometres from reaching our destination. A very young man that you would never suspect who was seated at the front of the Nissan minibus next to the driver asked the driver to drop him off at a very dark remote place on the main road. It sounded like a reasonable request. After all it was now dark and it made sense for somebody to be dropped off as close as possible to where they were going, although the place was so dark that it didn't look like anybody lived anywhere close by for miles around.
The moment the vehicle stopped there was a commotion at the back and three other young men (they couldn't have been more than 19 years old) emerged brandishing guns.
I was seated around the middle of the matatu and I froze in horror and went numb. Everything started happening in a hallucinatory way, like it was happening to somebody else or in a movie. There had been a total of 4 car-jackers in the matatu. They took over the vehicle and drove off the main road into the bush for several minutes. We finally stopped in what appeared to be a small clearing.
They proceeded to swiftly rob passengers of all their valuables at gunpoint. Wallets, mobile phones and all sorts of valuables were all put inside a makeshift sack they had fashioned from several shirts belonging to passengers. But the nightmare was only just beginning.
All passengers were then asked to strip naked and our clothes put in a heap. We stood there shivering out of fright and the chilly night air. We were then ordered at gun point to have sex with each other. I saw at least two of the gangsters also involved in the rape of passengers but they used condoms, which were also later recovered from the scene of the crime by the police.
At least two people penetrated me. One an elderly man who was stinking of sweat. It was all too horrible to imagine, let alone be involved in. It continued for what looked like forever. Finally we realized that the gangsters had left (with our clothes as well, so that it was difficult for us to seek help).
My normal senses started returning to me and I had these terrible feelings that are difficult to describe. I felt filthy and violated, there was deep fear in me. What would my husband say? Had I contracted AIDS? It was a horror that did not leave me and will probably never leave me completely.
Even today I can't bring myself to talk about it. This experience of writing it down is the first time I have really described it in any detail.
I have never gone for an AIDS test to date, although we were all treated at the district hospital and given medication. I am no longer with my husband as result of this incident although he supports our children. I have no idea how the guns were never discovered in the search carried out prior to the beginning of our journey.
(Gang rape and forced sex during matatu car jackings and even during robberies in homes is still a menace in Kenya today, although it has dramatically reduced from the high statistics of 2000 to 2002. What makes it worse is that most cases go unreported or are reported days after in scanty detail.
In the same year when this particular incident happened, a matatu carrying mainly female nurses going off duty was hijacked somewhere on Ngong Road and the passengers, including the nurses raped and forced to have sex with other passengers. The vehicle was later abandoned somewhere in Kawangware where people going to work the next morning came across it with condoms scattered all over the floor of the Nissan minibus.
This is a sick, bizarre and inhuman crime whose origin or motivations are unclear. People point to the increased use of drugs and exposures to Internet sex (some of which have violent tendencies) as possible causes.)
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