old town

Old Town Mombasa Street

Tragic events recently dampen things around old town and obviously negatively affect the livelihoods of people relying on tourists to that area. An emerging trend of killers shooting people at point blank range and vanish into the alleys has worsened the security outlook in Old Town Mombasa.

The Old town of Mombasa is a magical and historical place. It is one of the reasons that people are drawn to the city Mombasa. The narrow streets, with ancient balconies overhanging, tell stories that go back hundreds of years. History that takes you to Asia, Arabia, Mombasa and Europe. It is after all next to Fort Jesus.

The streets are almost always shaded, being narrow and most buildings being at least two storeys high. A pleasant place to walk about, even in the Mombasa heat. To admire the magnificent Lamu doors, buy trinkets from one of the many shops or sit cross legged at a coffee house and sip some “thungu”. It is easy to see the draw of the Old town,  a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

In July 2014, two female tourists were shot dead in the area. A German tourist was accosted by young men who shot and killed her at point blank range in Kibokoni. Her Ugandan friend was also shot and injured in the incidence. In the same month a Russian tourist was  killed on the spot at point blank in the same area.

After what felt like a lull, a well known Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer was shot 3 times and killed on his way home on March 26th. Ibrahim Mohamed was walking home when 2 men stopped and shot him in the abdomen. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Mombasa hospital. Another officer, a high ranking District Criminal Investigations Officer (DCIO) survived an attempt on his life last year after he was shot by unknown gunman in the Tudor area.

The latest case shows how much of a challenge the Mombasa County security team has on it’s hands. The motive for Ibrahim’s shooting is yet clear. What is not in doubt, is he was targeted most likely because he is a policeman. Criminals have grown bolder and are attacking the people we expect to keep us safe.

The number of incidents happening around old town are unfortunate and risk becoming a permanent stain. It should not become a place where killers roam free, shooting people and disappearing into alleys. To keep the magic of Old Town, the police and the community should work hand in hand to clean up the neighbourhood of criminals. The killers should be brought to book once and for all.

If visitors stop coming, everyone will suffer and the magic of Old Town Mombasa will be lost.

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