I have heard stories about robbers that break into homes, steal, and in between, somehow get time to eat the food they find in the homes they rob.
I have always thought that the narrators of these stories tell them with a pinch of salt to humour, but that was until I heard such a story from the horse’s mouth.
The victim is a family friend, a well-to-do man in his mid-sixties who owns an impressive home in Kiambu County.
Two years ago, he told us, four robbers brandishing guns managed to break into his home and proceeded to rob them. He had been robbed before, three times in fact.
The four however, he says, were different from those others in that they were very casual about the whole thing — they began by calmly informing him and his family that they would not harm them in any way if they cooperated, that all they were interested in was money. They also didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave.
After asking the man and his wife to produce all the money they had, which came to about Sh80,000 — they had an ongoing construction — they asked for their ATM cards as well and the PIN numbers.
Two went to town to withdraw the money, while two were left behind.
The robbers had struck just as they were about to have supper, so there was food on the table — ugali, fried liver and spinach.
Before the two thugs left for the ATM, they first gobbled up two of the five plates full of food that had been laid out on the table and even had the audacity to have a second helping. Talk of hungry robbers.
The two left behind ate too, but at a slower pace, engaging the man and his terrified family in a one-sided conversation, even commenting on how sweet the food was and politely asking whether there was tea, to which his wife told them, shakily, that yes, there was some in the tea flask in the kitchen.
When they had had their fill, one of them suddenly asked, “Mzee, uko na kamovie?”
This man told us that despite the fury growing within him with each passing second at the young men old enough to be his sons terrorising his family, he almost burst out in laughter; I mean, which robbers ask the people they go to rob whether they have a movie they can watch?
He was saved an answer because at that moment, the other two thieves walked in, looking as happy as can be.
They placed the ATM cards on one of the tables, thanked the man and his family for their hospitality, and walked out, disappearing into the night.
This man says that the experience was so surreal, he continued seating on the armchair he had been ordered to sit for a full minute. Immobile, disbelieving, still shocked to do anything useful.
In many ways, this family’s almost comic experience was a very fortunate one because many others have harrowing experiences to tell — many robberies have resulted in death or permanent injury, physical and psychological. Others have been raped.
Others still have been forced to abandon their homes due to regular violent robberies. They leave homes they used millions to build or buy, or homes they are still paying mortgage for to go and rent, the relief of parting ways with the landlord short-lived.
A couple of years ago, there was an estate in Ngong, Kajiado County, that was full of abandoned homes, empty mansions left behind by terrified homeowners that were violently robbed on an almost daily basis.
It is a shame if you are not assured of security and safety in your own home, a place that is supposed to be your haven, a refuge from all the bad things happening out there.
The writer is the Editor, Society and Magazines, Daily Nation. [email protected]