Granted, this list is inconclusive and not entirely reliable because most data has been obtained from the police press releases which normally read like refined propaganda, and news pieces whose authenticity is not very clear. Then there is the conspicuous absence of any MP, current or former, yet they have the balls to steal from hapless and apathetic taxpayer every year and look at them straight in the eye when they say they are going to use their taxes to pay their taxes (it makes sense, that last part).
I also considered the fact that it is that time of the month again and we are all broke, there is a reward out on these purported criminals. Wait, is the only woman on that list wanted for ‘Illigal meeting, disobeying curfew order”? I think the bigger crime is the typographical error, and the cheeky look she has in that photo as if she was trying to get her good side…for a mug shot?
#7 The Embu GK Prison Escape Crew
In August 2005, a group of gangsters stormed the Embu GK prison and armed several inmates before shooting their way to freedom. By the end of the commotion, four people, a trader, one of the gangsters, a remand prisoner and a prison warder lay dead. This group of daring criminals was made up of, among others, Godfrey Mulwa Kitheka (Ngilu), Simon Gitau Saitoti.
While this story is known among crime analysts, what did not make it to mainstream media was that the Embu GK escape was one of several prison escapes. Target practice for badassery had been Shimo la Tewa Prison and other smaller prisons from where capital offenders had broken out and gone on the run. This was before Michael Scofield became synonymous with (over)thinking prison breaks.
One of the prison break masterminds, Silas Mugendi Njeru, escaped from Shimo la Tewa prison on June 22, 2005. His accomplices were all capital offenders and he had been linked to the murders of at least five officers.Simon Gitau Saitoti was said to be a “tall and light-complexioned gangster” which sounds like a movie villain. Like many entries on this list, Saitoti had been a matatu driver. When he was arrested, Tanzanian police officers found what sounds like a small arsenal for a drug war: seven guns, hand grenades, bullet-proof jackets and 85 rounds of ammunition. Ngilu was the opposite of Saitoti “ stout, dark-complexioned man” said to have been a part of the prison escape.
Another prison break said to have contributed to the plain badassery displayed at Embu GK prison was the escape of 28 suspects from Naivasha Maximum Security Prison on April 21, 2004, followed swiftly by the escape of 29 remand prisoners from Meru courts.
What happened in 2005 reads like a movie plot. A group of gangsters drove into the prison compound and started shooting, they handed a group of prisoners guns and started shooting their way out of the prison. Forget what you have seen in movies though, Kenyan prisons do not arm all prison warders with guns because their role is not necessarily offense. This means that at any one time, most guns are in the armory and only the guards at the gates and the watchtowers are fully armed. You know this now, and a group of gangsters knew that in 2005 when they broke into the prison to break their friends out. So what happened to them? A common trend appears with all gangsters who display the characteristics of having titanium balls, such as shooting your way into and out of a prison, they die by the bullet of a police officer who most likely gets promoted.
Named Gerald Wambugu Munyeria by his parents, this criminal had a long history of criminal activities. He belonged to the same gang of four which terrorized Nairobi in the 1980s and the 1990s. The others include Anthony Ngugi Kanari (Wacucu), Bernard Matheri (Rasta), while the fourth position was occupied by different gangsters in the same period.
Going in the same trend as other thugs on this list, the gang of four went down ‘under a hail of bullets’ in Kajiado, Nyahururu and Nakuru at different times. Wanugu was most likely inspired by a criminal included in this list who died when he was eight years old. Before he started his illustrious career as a criminal, he was a mechanic and a tout.
How did he die?
“However, his hideaway was unmasked on June 27, 1996 as a team of flying squad on public tip-off tracked Wanugu to his rented abode at Kabati-ini, Nakuru. Armed Wanugu accompanied by his girlfriend on errands run into the elite squad.
Sensing danger he grabbed his fiancé as a human shield as he fired back at the police. This did not deter the police from reciprocating and in a matter of minutes the two lay dead their bodies riddled with bullets.”
Yup! Kenya police cannot be deterred by the possibility of an ‘innocent life’ dying in the process. And it’s clear that we have not started watching too many movies that depict police restraint now. Wanugu’s decision to use his own girlfriend as a human shield sounds eerily close to about 100 movie scripts. In the movie version, the police let the criminal go because they do not want to harm the innocent life. In the Kenyan version though, one standing behind the other makes it a more challenging target and saves bullets.
Wacucu is thought to have been the leader of the gang. It is hard to find the court records detailing his rap sheet because well, the Kenyan court system decided future generations did not need to know. The criminal extraordinaire was alleged to have committed at least six murders within a span of two years, many violent robberies and bank heists.Gunned down on January 4th 1996 in the far-off autonomous country of Rongai. He was the first of the gang to die and as he fell Wanugu stole a gun from him and bolted. So much for the brotherhood huh? All four had had a Kshs. 100, 000 reward tag as the most wanted gangsters in Kenya at a time when that kind of money could buy you a car or more than five acres of land.
Wacucu begun as a matatu driver, then became a mechanic and later a Karate tutor at the Kariokor Social Hall. You read that right, he had begun in much the same way as about half the entries on this list, driving people around in matatus. The trend indicates someone who can drive really fast, repair and still cars and kick ass!
The irony of it all? The story is told of a time when Wacucu was drinking in bar in Maragwa district when two police officer got drunk and begun to bully revelers? The leader instincts in Wacucu kicked in and “…he tactfully disarmed them, handcuffed them and took their gun to Kandara Police Station” Wait, WHAT? One of the three most wanted criminals in the country made a citizen arrest? Of the same guys who were supposed to have been looking for him?
Wacucu’s controversies do not end there; the family thinks they buried the wrong man. First is the fact that his mother claims he was baptized ‘Malachi’ and not ‘Anthony’. The police spokesman at the time, Peter Kimanthi, claimed that he must have used aliases. The family also claims that they did not have enough time to identify the body, and had to do so in the presence of intimidating police officers.
His mother claimed that the body she buried was taller and darker than Wacucu had been and you cannot argue with a mother about the height of her son. She also noted that the criminal had had two warts on the two small fingers, both of which were missing from the body they identified. Do you think he might be an alive and well? And in Parliament?
#4 Wakinyonga-The Killer
Before the infamous gang of three there lived a man called Wakinyonga who terrorized Nairobi and its environs in the 1970s. Peter Mwea Wakinyonga is perhaps the first criminal for whom the surname was enough for a nickname and the first known all badass gangster. When the rest of the world was busy enjoying the bond films, and the film release of the Godfather, Wakinyonga was busy ‘bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.’ Forget economic policies, Wakinyonga used to rob the rich and give the money to the poor, because fuck capitalism and the laws of the land.
Wakinyonga is the grandfather of criminal gangs: He redefined how robbers viewed violence as a tool of coercion and sometimes, for mere adrenaline. Wanugu was killed on June 27th, on the same day eighteen years after Wakinyonga The Killer.Why was he badass? He escaped from several police dragnets. The most notable escape was sometime in 1975 when he fled with a bullet wound in his right collarbone, and, of all other places one can be shot and still escape, his buttocks? Did you read that right? A man escaped with a bullet in his ass!
So what were his reported crimes? He was said to have robbed 330, 000 from a bank in Thika, 200, 000 from a bank in Nairobi along Wabera Street and over 80, 000 somewhere else. He was also said to have killed a Mr. Bloch as he attempted to steal his car. While I can see why someone who’s name sounds phonetically close to ‘botch’ would refuse to let his car go, Wakinyonga is perhaps the most badass criminal, our MPs aside, to walk on this Cradle of Man.
He went down in the only way a badass should, under a hail of bullets. Consider the following report:
“Police armed to the teeth and on a tip-off traced Wakinyonga to Nyakiambi Lodge and Nightclub in Kangemi, Nairobi on June 26, 1978 midnight, then surrounded it.
The pub was full to capacity with revelers enjoying his generosity. Interestingly, Wakinyonga had already dug his grave near his father’s and had sworn to kill a police officer before he died.
Coincidentally, at the pub he was boasting that he would shoot and kill the one famous officer, Patrick Shaw. While still binge-drinking, he noticed an officer, grabbed a machine gun from him but the officer pulled out a revolver, prompting an exchange of gunfire and confusion.
The dramatic firing lasted for a while before Wakinyonga was overpowered shortly after midnight on June 27 and the police recovered a revolver and several rounds of ammunition. Three bystanders, including a woman, suffered injuries. Drama would follow his burial as police made unanticipated swoop targeting young men and women.”
Yes, that reads like a movie, and it happened, here, or as the police officers who were involved in the gunfight recorded their statements. There is a high likelihood one of the was a failed scriptwriter and he added a few lines to tune up the story but reading into Wakinyonga’s past, it’s likely most of the details are there. Further evidence is the shooting of bystanders, keeping with the Kenya police age-old fashion of stray bullets.
Legend has it that the kill shot was taken by the one and only Patrick Shaw, Police Reservist extraordinare who instilled fear and respect due to his obsession with killing criminals. Nyakiambi Lodge and Night Club, where Wakinyonga the bank robber met his death, closed years later and the premises are now occupied by, of all mother of ironies, a bank.
On 3rd October 1997, a newspaper called Maarifa carried the headline ‘Who betrayed ‘Rasta’ to the Police?”. The headline photo was one of Bernard Matheri’s bullet riddled body. The editor and journalist were later arrested, more so for the photo than the headline.To how just how badass one Bernard Matheri was, a worthy mention of his formidable sidekick, second wife and accomplice extraordinaire, one Mary Wanjiku Karirimbi (whose surname means a small fire). She started stealing as soon as she hit teenage, at an age where girls now scream Justin Beiber and write ‘gurlfriendz!’. She stole from her grandmother and before you let your moral outrage get the better of you, may I add that the Shs. 70, 000 she stole was Tithe money her mother kept in safety for her church?
When she gave 4, 000 bob to her mother, she told her she had found it on the road. But mothers know, mothers always know. So her mother did the silliest thing ever, she took the money to the police station (WTF!) and was rewarded….wait for it…..wait for it….Shs. 20 for reporting the crime?
She stole from customers who visited her boutique which had been financed by money she stole from a petrol station owner. And there she also met the Gang of Three and fell in love with Rasta who, since flowers and chocolate were too mainstream, gave his new fling an AK-47 as a gift to show his love (suddenly that clutch bag does not look so well-thought does it?). She was arrested in 1999 when she planned to steal Shs. 162 million (Yes, you read that right) cash in transit went haywire. Unlike the other criminals on this list, and which goes to show even badass women have a higher chance of survival, she was jailed for seven years during which time she ‘Found the Lord.’
Another member of the group, John Kibera, was the coffin-stealer of the group, because what is a criminal gang without a man who specializes in stealing coffins. Even more interesting is that this reverse undertaker is still alive and well because, like Rasta’s wife, he found the Lord. He was first a street boy, then a burglar, bank robber in the infamous Gang of Four and finally, the last step in the criminal world, a grave yard robber.
When he was caught, he did what anyone would in such a scenario, he hid in a coffin and then ran out, scaring and scaring all the onlookers who thought the dead had risen to begin the Zombie Apocalypse.
The last of the Gang of Four/Five, and perhaps the least known of them all was Timothy Irungu Ndegwa. Part of his lack of infamity is the fact that he did not die under a hail of bullets but was instead arrested and dragged through the Kenyan Court System, a worse punishment. He was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of an army officer and his punishment committed to a life sentence.
#2 Simon Matheri Ikere- The Infamous son of Gachie
When the entry on the Most Wanted List is titled “Public Enemy No. 1” then you know the police have a funky content creator for their website or you are completely badass.
He was arrested and jailed for arson for five years at the one place where hardened criminals in KE are manufactured, Kamiti Prison. Like most other thugs on this list, he was a mechanic at some point in his life. He first trained as a jua kali welder, then as a blacksmith and finally as a mechanic. Interestingly, Matheri chose the birth district of his namesake, the infamous Bernard Matheri Thuo, alias Rasta.
“Matheri survived by swimming across a fast flowing river to evade a hail of bullets and police sniffer dogs. He came home for the first time and we realized he was now a hard-core criminal,” intimates a brother.
Then his mother adds: “Kori karega nyina no gukua gakuaaga. Ndimukanitie maita maingi no ndaiguaaga. Riu ni ndamuneana kuri thirikari” ( if a goat’s kid rejects its mother, it dies. I have warned him many times but he doesn’t listen. Now I have surrendered him to the Government).
Matheri lived a very simply but wild life. When he was killed, the only things found in the house were two mattresses, a coffee table, a sofa set, a DVD and a 14-inch TV.
The stories told on this list are captivating because they sound like movie scripts. In Matheri’s case, a curious angle appears after he was gunned down in Madaraka Estate. The police swoop was carried out by over 100 police officers who, after riddling his body with bullets the typical Kenya police way, then proceeded to soil the crime scene in ‘unrestrained joy.’ They sat on his seat and then, most interestingly, were captured by television cameras enjoying a hearty meal of chicken and chapatti. Considering the operation took place at 1 am when the gangster and his wife were most likely boning or asleep, one wonders where the meal came from. There are several theories: One, that the meal had been made before but not yet consumed and two that Mrs. Matheri was forced to cook for the men who had just made a hole into her husband’s head.
The action of the officers gets even more interesting when you consider that they were too excited to remember to remove the handcuffs from the man they had just killed. How hard can it be to stage a ‘he started shooting at my (m)boys and they returned fire’ scenario? So the body beamed to the world had the hands stuck curiously behind because the officers had slept through their pathology class and new zero about rigor mortis and why any staging should take place within the first hour or so before the body stiffens. The next day, an accomplice of his committed suicide. Unless there is an unspoken suicide pact between such criminals, the death itself was as interesting as the fact that the Gachie villagers burned his body.
Matheri begun his working life as a taxi driver in…you guessed right, Rongai.
Of all the criminals on this list, Matheri showed the most ingenuity for someone who had never attended a military school. He had never used the front door of the house in Kitengela, and his wife of two years knew him as ‘Matheru’ because there is nothing like hiding one’s identity by switching a vowel.
Matheri was said to have shot and killed or wounded: prominent African AIDS researcher, Job Bwayo; Lois Anderson, a Presbyterian missionary, and her daughter Zelda White, the wife of a U.S. embassy employee, a Carol Briggs, a missionary volunteer.” He is probably the only violent robber in Kenya who once had a Wikipedia page (It has since been removed).
#1 Edward Maina Shimoli, The Jackal
Acording to the Urban Dictionary Shimoli means ‘a beautiful girl who many envy and love.’
To anyone who met him or heard of his legacy, there was ever only one Shimoli, also known as The Jackal.We all know that you cannot be called ‘The Jackal’ for no apparent reason. You either have to be related to the jackal family or at least show some of the animals characteristics. Shimoli falls in the latter category of natural selection. Synopsis, he was jailed for ten years. Spoiler alert, he died like all the other criminals on this list.
Shimoli was nicknamed the Jackal partly because he found a way to incorporate women into his gangs and plots. Shimoli was the first gangster to incorporate affirmative action into crime. His prison escapes involved bribing and tricking prison warders, once breaking the leg of a warden. During another escape, his comrades carried out an escape that is only second to the seventh entry on this list where they shot at police as they were spiriting him to safety.When Shimoli was released from Kamiti prison on March 15th, 2007, he had a record of having escaped from prison three times. Shimoli got his nickname from the Venezuelan terrorist ‘Carlos the Jackal’ because they both eluded police dragnets for a long time. Like Carlos, there is no evidence that Shimoli ever called himself ‘the Jackal.’
One of his dramatic escapes from Kamiti prison was right before he was to be hanged. He had been sentenced to death in 1996. .His last escape was from a Nairobi courtroom. Granted, the plot reads of numerous twists and accomplices but for a man who escaped from several rings of prison and police staff, having a tankfull of balls is an understatement.
When he was arrested in 2002 in Kiambu, Kamiti prison officers visited the police station and identified him as the same man who had escaped death row in 1996. He was reported to have, among other people, shot his own wife in the back and killed his brother-in-law after he suspected they had betrayed him.
His charge sheet read like a script for a thriller movie.?: 14 murders, 88 rapes, drug deals and numerous bank robberies. Any man who rapes and keeps a record is 100% psychopath. Where Carlos the Jackal evaded capture for 20 years, Shimoli was a mere ghost for ten years. He escaped after a gun battle at Uhuru Park, then shot two policemen who stopped him as he drove a stolen Mercedes.
As if his three pairs of titanium testicles was not enough, Shimoli was photographed raising his middle finger several times to the police and judicial officers and even lit a roll of bhang within the precincts of a courtroom: badassery which got him one more year in the slammer. He was only jailed for twelve years because the police did not have evidence of his other numerous crimes. During the interview outside Kamiti prison, he expressed his fear that he would be killed and he was right because two months later, his body was lying on the cold tables of City Mortuary with a single bullet wound to the head. Shimoli did not want to leave prison because he knew, and with good reason, that an extra judicial killing was in the offing.
One event that might water down his badassery is the fact that in 2007, he was part of a team of prisoners at Kamiti prison that formed Crime si Poa. His litany of crime reads like something Stephen King would write up, but with Shimoli most of it is likely to have been true.
Addition, 26th March 2013
A reader (Chris) pointed out that I had left out one man who should have been number 1. I agree…
Daniel Kiptum Cheruiyot alias ‘Frank’
No, this is not Frank Martin but I can see why you would make that error.
CID officer, as he made everyone believe. In reality, he had only once been a Police Reservist who lost his job for hiring his gun out to robbers. Cheruiyot was also soft-spoken, murderous, cunning, and most of all, meticulous.
Like Matheri and Wakinyonga, he sparingly furnished the houses he lived in. In his house in Zimmerman where he was killed in 2005, he only had a single bed, a five seater sofa set (because a gang of five is not going to sit on the floor is it now?) and a black coffee table (I am resisting referring to it as ‘a black loot-counting table’).
“Only a few metres from the Deliverance Church, and tucked away in a secluded part of the vast estate, the house has a high perimeter wall ringed with broken glass. It is less than 200 metres away from the busy Thika Highway, and boasts burglar proof doors and windows.
Sandwiched between two houses, a passer-by has no view of Cheruiyot’s den, let alone the activities of its residents. The house’s backyard is, however, not barricaded with a wall like the front, and offers a possible escape route to the highway. “
He killed the first officer who went to arrest him in Imara Daima, Charles Karue and later killed Maina Cheserem.
Oh, and did I mention that the police ambush and 5 hour drama was recorded on video?
You can watch it part of it here (ignore the lack of equipment, even Cheruiyot had bullet proof vests) and here.
What more would a man who has already survived severall gunfights, become a gangster complete with several homes and police murders, already using multiple phones in 2005, and died holding an Uzi sub-machine gun, do to be even more badass?
“Cheruiyot recently telephoned the control room at police headquarters and warned that he would continue killing police officers because he knows clearly that they are looking for him.”
Because catch me if you can? The man who did was rewarded.