Daniel Seronei was once at the core of Kenya’s crime-busting efforts. Today at 49, he is a pale shadow of himself. We are in a shady hotel in a dusty town near the Kenya-Tanzania border, where I have tracked him.
Seronei looks around nervously, his eyes darting left and right. “I don’t like sticking in the same place for long,” he proclaims, taking one more suspicious sweep of the place. He is tall, slender, and dark, but a sickly man, his face aged by ordeal. He wears dark sunglasses. The sun set hours ago.
In 2001, Seronei was unceremoniously dismissed from the police force he had served for 17 years. Members of his squad and several other officers who provided him with crucial information that assisted in hunting down some of the most wanted criminals have either been gunned down or escaped into exile.
Daniel Seronei knows he is a marked man, constantly on the run.
“How come you are still alive?” I prod him. “You can’t kill a man who has already died,” he responds wryly. The list of his “hits” among thugs he has brought to the book reads like who-is-who in Kenya’s historical crime world of yesteryears; Muhindi, Kabuti, Kachicho, Ndegwa alias Bull, Kinuthia, Rasta, Kimari, Muite, Senge, Wacucu, Rasta and Wanugu make the unenviable list.
Alpha Two. That was his codename from his days as commander of the dreaded Alpha Romeo, a disbanded off-the-book small, mobile, quick-response squad trained to kill.
The elite unit operated within the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). His eyes search the hotel tensely. I watch him count the number of people with his fingers. “I can sense a criminal from far away,” he says. “However, these days I do not fear criminals. My worry is the police. They are dangerous people.
These are the people I am running away from”. At 49, he looks beyond his age, more of a very old man whose early prayers for an early death to save him from the perils of old age have gone unanswered. The truth is that Seronei is practically dying from the inside.
There is a rusting bullet lodged near his diaphragm that has been eroding the sheet of his internal skeletal muscle. Seronei was struck with the bullet on the evening of December 15, 1999, when fellow police officers went rogue and fired 56 times using assault rifles on his car.
He is unable to raise Sh2 million to remove the bullet after the Police Force declined to cover the costs. Whereas years ago Seronei was the poster boy of the kind of police officers Kenya craved for, unexpectedly rising from a lowly corporal to Chief Inspector of Police in less than five years and receiving several State commendations, today he is the portrait of a cop hunted down by his own and left to waste. “I saw the men who shot me.
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I called them by their names. I even know where they are currently working,” he says. “They shot at me in Buru Buru Phase I near Buru Buru Primary School on my way home.
In the morning, I had attended a court case involving criminals arrested in South C who robbed Sh40 million and injured an Administration Police officer.”
“In the afternoon at about 4pm, I was called into CID headquarters to assist with interrogations and then left for home at about 7pm. I passed through a pub near Kariobangi roundabout called Kamaua Bar and Restaurant, from where I took meat and a cup of soup.
“I drove for my residence, through Mumias Road on the way to Buru Buru. Before diverting towards Buru Buru, I noticed a CID Flying Squad Peugeot parked along the road. “When I was almost at Buru Buru Phase 1, I saw the same Flying Squad car speeding towards me.
I decided to drive by the curb to allow it to pass. However, when it came closer, the officers started shooting,” he says. Seronei says the public saved him from death by refusing a request by the rogue cops to rush him to the hospital.
He was bleeding profusely after four bullets entered his body — one in his back, one in the hip, another ripped off the head of his penis while the final one hit his buttocks. “Before I passed out, I called them by their names and asked why they wanted to kill me yet I had been with them in the office less than two hours,” he recalls. “They never answered me”.
According to ballistic experts and accounts by the officers, 56 rounds were fired at him that night. The official explanation given was it was a case of mistaken identity despite the fact his colleagues knew him and his car well enough.
He stayed in the hospital for months until 2000. On May 4, 2000, he was moved to Kakamega and told to report immediately despite having fresh wounds and a doctor’s letter saying he needed close medical attention. A few days after reporting to Kakamega, he traveled to Nairobi to return two pistols and was told to go back and collect a pistol from Kakamega.
A day after he left Nairobi unarmed, he was kidnapped from the Kakamega Senior Police Headquarters by a group of six armed with AK47 rifles. “I stayed in the boot of a car for four days without being given food,” he recalls. “They took me to Kakamega forest where they asked me if I was Daniel Seronei.
I told them Daniel Seronei was my brother and I was taking care of his new house. I told them my name was Sonkol. Even my ID which I showed them had no Seronei name.” Four days later, he was dropped off near Eldoret KCC offices, but upon arrival at work, he was accused of deserting duty.
A few months later, he was unceremoniously kicked out of the Force. “When you are faithful with your work, a police officer never survives,” he says. “One of my seniors confided in me that I had cut the pipe that fed rogue cops and that my time to be cut had arrived.”