Three people who escaped a robbery at gunpoint, a carjacking and a car accident tell us how they survived:
I survived a nasty car accident - Daniel Okiror, 33
On May 3, 2015, Daniel Okiror, his wife and daughter were travelling to Nairobi from Mombasa by road.
The culmination of their journey was intended to be Jinja in Uganda, but fate had different plans.
Seated in the back seat of a saloon car, they had had an uneventful journey from Mombasa – until they got to the roundabout just before Mlolongo.
Suddenly, they heard a big bang issue from the left backside of the vehicle.
The next minute, all the car passenger were violently rocking from side to side.
“It turns we had been hit by a minivan,” Daniel remembers.
“The impact caused our car to overturn. Onlookers said that we turned three times and landed in a ditch but inside the car, I didn’t know that the car was overturning. I just felt the movements. I felt helpless in that moment. My thoughts went to my family and I wished I could do something to keep them from getting hurt. I tried holding them but I couldn’t see anything after the car stopped,” he adds.
The public moved in to help the stranded victims get out of the car that stood on its crushed wheels.
“We had worn our seat belts so none of us was hurt. I was helped out through the shattered back window. I then also helped to get the others out.”
Because Daniel and his family were in shock, he decided to get them other means to leave the scene – and the crowd that had gathered.
In the process, he found out that the driver of the car was under the influence of alcohol, which might have impaired his judgement.
Three days later, after they arrived in Jinja, Daniel started having really bad headaches.
A doctor’s exam revealed that his brain had been excessively rocked during the accident, and prescribed medication and rest to help stabilise the condition. However, Daniel and his family remained relatively unscathed.
“Looking back, if we had not worn our seat belts, the car would have crushed me. Do not ignore those little rules; they will save your life,” says Daniel.
I survived a carjacking - Yvonne Rajula, 36
It was a Saturday evening in January 2007. Yvonne Rajula was looking forward to going out for some music and dancing, and had had a friend drop her off at her house on Muchai Drive in Ngummo, Nairobi to change into some party clothes.
They had bought some pizza and a soda at the kiosk next to her house to eat before heading out.
“After the food and drink, I packed a change of clothes and my purse in a paper bag,” Yvonne remembers.
And then they exited her house and headed back to her friend’s car, which was parked on the kerb just next to Muchai Drive.
While Yvonne went to return the soda bottle to the shop and claim her deposit for it, her friend moved his car – and hit something, most likely the kerb. “I came back and we stood together, looking to see how much damage had been done to the car. Then we both got in the car and I put my bags in the backseat.”
Yvonne had barely sat than her friend yelled out, ‘Yvonne, run!’ “I reached back to grab my bags but when I turned back around, there was a man in front of the car holding a gun. I opened my car door to run out, but another man ran towards me held a cold piece of metal to the back of my waist. I couldn’t tell if it was a gun or not, but I froze and dropped my bags,” says Yvonne.
The man with the gun moved on Yvonne’s friend, trying to get him in the car, but he was unsuccessful – even after he was joined by a third assailant. In the commotion, the driver threw the car keys away.
One of the gangsters went for the keys and they drove off with Yvonne in the front passenger seat.
They drove towards Mbagathi Hospital and turned towards Magiwa as they ransacked her bags and made her empty her pockets. They took her phone and some money.
One of them sat behind her and kept banging his weapon into the back of her seat, telling her that she shouldn’t try to escape or raise the alarm if she wanted to keep her life.
Meanwhile she could pick out some sheng words in their conversations and deduced they wanted to rob a certain supermarket not far from there.
Even as she cooperated, Yvonne was hoping someone outside would pick out that she was in distress.
The gang parked outside the target supermarket and two of the gangsters went in. Not long afterwards they ran out of the supermarket and towards the car.
Across the road from the car was a food shack and, as someone raised the alarm to the robbers, the people there started hurrying towards the vehicle with stones.
The driver sped off once his accomplices got in, hurtling over road bumps as they tried to lose their pursuers. The robbers didn’t get money but had made off with some items.
They rounded Ngummo and tried to get back to Mbagathi Way, but were caught up in traffic just before they got there.
“All of a sudden they said, ‘Madam take the wheel’ and before I could gather myself they had jumped out. A passenger in a matatu next to us who had seen them leave noticed there was a crowd coming towards the car, and seeing my shock, shouted ‘Switch off the car and get out!’. I turned off the ignition and walked out of the car with my paper and purse,” she says.
In the ensuing drama, the gathering crowd accused Yvonne of part of the gang.
The Good Samaritan who had helped Yvonne get out of the car lent her his phone and she called her friend to tell him where he was.
He arrived with some police officers who rescued her from the crowd and took them to Kilimani Police Station to record statements.
“I thought I was going to die that day. I was so shook,” Yvonne says.
“I said more than enough prayers then. I was scared of going back to my house and stayed at a friend’s for almost a week. Then I moved houses about a month afterwards.” She’s more careful about her surroundings now.
I survived a robbery at gunpoint - Elizabeth Lundi, 32
Elizabeth had only lived in her house in Golden Gate estate in South B for eight months when the worst happened.
It was a Sunday evening in March 2009, and for eight months, Elizabeth had considered it a very safe neighbourhood.
But that evening, as she walked through a car park adjacent to the railway track, she noticed something peculiar happening at a shop nearby.
“I heard a commotion. I looked and saw two middle-aged men trying to rob the elderly shop owner. I started walking faster to get to my house, while keeping an eye on the robbery and hoping to slip past.”
However the danger did not come from the shop robbers; it came from two very young guys who approached her from amongst the parked cars.
“I changed direction from going towards my house to heading towards a grocery in the area because I didn’t want to be alone in my house with the thieves,” Elizabeth says.
“Just before I got to the grocery one of them told me not to move, in a hushed but stern tone.”
They told her to lie down, then placed a gun next to her. They relieved her of her bag that had her phone and house keys, a silver necklace, a bracelet and four rings.
“I was really scared because they were very uneasy,” Elizabeth says, “and I know young gangsters are extremely trigger happy. I was very cooperative because they just want to rob and run. I didn’t want them to think I was trying to stall them. At some point I even broke down and cried.”
When they had everything they felt they wanted, they went to the first shop. Meanwhile the grocery owner came out to see what the commotion was about. “I warned him there were armed robbers and that he should go back inside while I was still lying on the floor,” Elizabeth remembers.
The grocery store owner then went back into his house, switched on the security light and raised the alarm. That’s when the robbers ran away, crossing the tracks and disappearing into the neighbouring slum. The whole experience lasted about five minutes.
“I moved out about a week afterwards, fearing the robbers would come back when and steal my stuff or find me, and I didn’t want to know that outcome,” she says.