Kenya: Former Gsu Officer Linked to Equity Bank Robbery

A police officer who was part of the security team at Equity Bank's Matuu branch that was robbed by gunmen on Tuesday is among the persons of interest as the hunt for the gang continues.

Detectives suspect the five-man gang was under the command of a former General Service Unit officer who was dismissed from the service in Mombasa due to misconduct and has reportedly been involved in a number of robberies in Matuu.

A multi-agency team from Nairobi was formed Wednesday to assist the officers in Machakos in pursuing the criminals after police established that the gang came from the city.

A boda boda rider, Sylvester Kilonzo, was the first suspect to be arrested after eye witnesses told police that he allegedly ferried two of the gang members from Matuu to Kimangu market, about nine kilometres from the bank.

Another rider who also ferried the gunmen after the robbery has reportedly gone into hiding.

Build a profile

Police intend to use information they will obtain from Mr Kilonzo to build a profile of the gang members to know where they possibly went after the robbery.

By last evening, a search team led by Machakos County police commander Issa Mohammed had combed Ithekithini, Kithimani and Kimangu areas with no success.

Police sniffer dogs tracking the robbers lost the trail at Kimangu, where one of them hails from.

Detectives have also established that the gang was last seen at Kithimani area, asking locals for directions to Tala.

Officers that were dispatched there failed to locate them and were rerouted to Oldonyo Sabuk. The search in this location also failed to yield results.

Amount lost

Neither the police nor the bank are willing to share information on how much was lost during the robbery. However, five customers who were in the banking hall lost a total of Sh270,860, according to police records which the Nation has seen.

"Kindly note that we had a distress incident today about unauthorised access into the banking hall of our Matuu branch. Nobody was injured neither were the vaults accessed," said the bank through its corporate communications team.

Equity Bank yesterday told the Nation that it was yet to re-open the branch as it was still being considered as a crime scene.

A review of CCTV footage has, however, given investigators reasons to believe the robbery may have been an inside job. One of the officers who was manning the bank, Constable Dorothy Opili, left her seat outside the premises shortly before the robbery.

On leaving, she left an AK-47 rifle, serial number 5527115 and loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition with her colleague, Constable Patrick Omusebe.

The male officer had his own AK47, serial number 5526385, also loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition. Shortly, he placed both rifles on the floor and sat down.

Gang strikes

The footage shows the gang struck at exactly 9am, just after the bank had opened its doors.

Constable Omusebe was the first one to be taken on by two robbers, both armed with pistols, who overpowered him and grabbed the two rifles under his care before pushing him to the banking hall.

The officer is then seen talking with some of the robbers and he isn't harassed as much as the clients and staff.

Another policeman who was nearby, fled in a motorcycle to the nearby Faulu Bank and notified two officers who were manning the premises. Faulu is just 300 metres from Equity.

However, instead of responding to the distress call, constables Hudson Nderitu and John Njagi instructed the bank to close its premises and only notified their station commander.

All the five officers have been questioned by detectives and are assisting with investigations.

vachuka@ke.nationmedia.com

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