Hussein Shaban is a self-confessed former gangster who used to terrorize city residents with his gang. According to Shaban, he changed his stealing ways after most of his gang colleagues were shot dead.
Speaking to The Nairobian, Shaban revealed how he got into crime and walked out of it all with nothing. He disclosed that he wasted all the money he stole on women and drugs.
Here’s his story:
You became a criminal at such a young age. What drove you to the underworld?
I blame my family background. I come from a very poor background and I was forced to fend for myself at a very young age. With no education and job, the only option was to steal.
I also suspect that ‘crime genes’ run in my family. My grandfather, I am told, was a serial pickpocketer!
Looks like you knew crime is bad, yet you willingly got involved…
Yes. You don’t realise how bad it is until you are deep in it. You become a slave. You cannot get out despite knowing too well your days are numbered.
It is like an addiction. You get easy money. You might be broke in the morning, but flowing in money in the evening. Tulikuwa tunapiga ngeta mchana, sio usiku (we use to mug people during the day, not at night). I used to wear expensive clothes every day.
Believe it or not, I had no time to wash clothes. I just used to throw the dirty clothes away and buy new ones!
How many guys were you in the gang and how did you operate?
We were a group of 13 men. We all had different roles. I was the one assigned to spot people who appeared rich. I had that talent.
I could tell if someone was rich from the way they dressed and the car they drove. I would then signal my gang to strike.
We never spared anyone. In most cases, we left our victims with nothing! Lazima tungepita na wewe na ganji zote na kila kitu hadi viatu (we cleaned out our victims of everything, including money and shoes)!
Have you ever been arrested?
Never. I was very lucky, though policemen had marked and warned me.
When and how did you finally see the light?
After most of the gang members were shot dead. I knew I was next. I’m the only one alive or not in prison.
Six of my friends were killed, while the rest are rotting in jail. I can only thank God for the life and the lessons learnt.
Do you have any regrets?
Yes. I enjoyed free money and lavish lifestyle for seven years, until 2005. But I still walked out of it with nothing. I wasted that money on drugs and women. I wish I had invested.
You were used to free and lots of money. How are you currently coping?
Maisha ni ngumu (life is tough), but I’m striving to make ends meet. I have learnt to appreciate what I get from my own sweat and it has made me think of more legit ways of making money.
I currently work with a garbage collection firm based in Majengo. I’m hopeful that God will open doors for me.
Your message to the youth?
Learn to be patient with your hustle. Avoid crime and God will bless the work of your hands.