Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Case of ‘friendly’, drug-carrying criminals in commuter buses

There have been the public-owned (later privatised) Usafiri Dar es Salaam (UDA), which has been serving on many routes around the city, before being joined by the chaotic ‘daladala’, which many residents and commuters wouldn’t talk about so kindly.
It is during peak hours, that passenger volume is at its highest, when pickpockets go into action, stealing from unsuspecting commuters, who have seen their wristwatches (no longer fashionable among thieves), handbags, wallets and hard cash snatched.
In recent months, a new wave of crime has emerged in the country’s commercial capital, which has left victims in a state of shock and needing medical attention.
One of the victims of the new robbery style gave his version of things to this reporter, cautioning commuters against accepting such freebies as fruit and drinks “I was commuting from Kijitonyama to Mbagala on board a city bus, when a stranger offered me a drink.
He had an overpowering kind look and engaged me in a conversation, I developed a trust in him,” Juma Hassan (not his real name) expressed his ordeal to this newspaper recently. It all started after Juma had visited a bank at Kijitonyama.
It was upon leaving the money centre’s premises when he realised that someone was monitoring his movements. “It never occurred to me that I could be drugged with sedated drinks in a public service vehicle,” he regrets.
It was not until he had boarded a bus when he was offered a drink from a ‘kind’ looking man who had begun to get friendly in form of greetings and a smile. But when the unsuspecting commuter took the first sip from the bottle he started feeling dizzy.‘’
The worst happened when I took the second sip. I soon began feeling dizzy and upon taking the second sip, I went unconscious,’’ Mr Hassan said as he narrated his ordeal.
According to him, after taking the drink, the only thing he could remember was falling unconscious and then seeing himself admitted to one of the hospitals at Mbagala without any clothes except his underwear.
Thereafter, he spent a day in the hospital before being discharged while still in an unstable condition due to drug overdose. He admitted that lack of awareness on such happenings was to blame because he had never thought that he could have been a criminals’ prey.
“The guy who drugged me might have suspected that I was carrying a big amount of cash because I had walked out of the bank carrying a rucksack,’’ he said. He went to say that he was deceived by the man’s gentlemanly looks.
‘’Even worse was the appearance of the thief who looked very smart, with strong personality, which one would swear he was not a thug. Similar episodes have been reported, involving those who go on drinking sprees; only to find the next day that they have been drugged and robbed.
Another victim who preferred anonymity said after two days of falling unconscious after drinking a sedated drink, he came around only to find himself accommodated at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).
His story started when commuting from Kariakoo where he went to buy a flat screen TV before boarding a Tegeta-bound ‘daladala.’ “Sitting next to me was this smart and very charming gentleman you wouldn’t imagine is a thief.
When we reached Magomeni Morocco, he bought two bottles of cold water and offered one to me. I later suspected that the soft drinks vendor was an accomplice as after the first sip, I do not remember what happened from there; how I reached MNH and where my flat screen was,” he painfully narrated.
In another incident, a woman who was carrying 300,000/- and heading to her business site one morning reported that she was connived by a stranger who was driving a posh car accompanied by a woman.
“This man pretended to know me very well by calling me by my first name and even mentioning the names of my daughter and brother. I fell into the trap,” she reported. The woman, who also preferred anonymity, said that with such kind gestures, she was least worried and accepted a lift.
The tragedy began when I opened the car door, which was tinted, and someone grabbed my hand and pulled me into the car, she said.
“No sooner had I got seated a noose was placed on my head and I immediately lost consciousness,” she said. She said she was found after midnight dumped in one of the suburbs in the outskirts of the city.
Ilala Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Lucas Mkondya, said that so far they have not received such cases, noting however, that incidents of residents getting sedated involved individuals who were on drinking spree in some bars in which drinks were laced with some drug.
He said despite the isolated incidents in bars, the police were still consolidating their data and using various sources on such crime while investigating the crime.


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