NAIROBI — There was laughter and joy as a young Frank played with his friend outside their home located on the northern edges of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. While his friend returned home that day, Frank’s parents spent the whole night scouring their neighbourhood for their three-year-old son taken by persons unknown to them.
“A neighbour alerted me that a woman was walking off with Frank. This was around 10 a.m. local time. Aware that I had not allowed anyone to take Frank, I rushed out of the house but failed to see them. Both Frank and the woman were gone within minutes,” James Mwangi, father to Frank said during a recent interview.
Mwangi and his wife have momentarily lost sense of the world with the unfortunate disappearance of their child. Since June 22, when their son was withdrawn from them, the family has been in a state of hopelessness. Regrettably, other families share in Mwangi’s anguish after their children have also gone missing.
In the recent past, cases of child abductions have been making headlines in the local media.
In the capital, the cluster of kidnappings is emanating from Zimmerman, a suburb 13 kilometres from downtown Nairobi.
Mwangi resides in this area together with his young family. The coastal city of Mombasa has also been in the spotlight with area residents being left shaken by soaring cases of violence meted upon children in the hands of their abductors.
“The incident has left her traumatized and is now threatening her pregnancy. We have been going to the hospital more frequently because of Frank,” said a distraught Mwangi.
Because of the situation, school buses are delivering children right outside their homes unlike before when they would be dropped off a few blocks away. Also, the young ones can be heard playing within the confines of their building blocks kept under lock and key round the clock.
“Anxiety is at an all-time high; no parent wants to see a stranger talking to their child. There is fear of even sending them to the shops because that could put them right in the path of the kidnappers,” said Irene.
“Last week, a car was upturned with two men inside. The two men failed to provide details of a young child in their possession. Within minutes people waged an assault against them. They were saved by the police,” she added.
Responding to the dire situation, the cabinet secretary for Labour and social protection, Simon Chelugui said the government had constituted a special unit that would address cases of missing children, according to local media.
Missing child Kenya, a non-profit organization at the forefront of reuniting missing children with their kin, released a report for last year when 242 children were reported missing, 131 were reunited with their families, and 10 were confirmed dead.