Luca the conductor: My encounter with thugs posing as passengers

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By Felix Desouza

What is the most frightening situation have you ever been to? My Friday evening incident might just be the most frightening for me. With a lot happening on our roads, we were just unfortunate to be victims that night.

It was one of those lucrative evenings when we were sure of making a good kill. I love Fridays in particular since there are many commuters and we have the luxury of hiking fares without much dispute from the passengers.

We had now entered the happy hour as Julius and I would call it. Happy hours mean that fares are at the highest price. The matatu was full and we left the terminus. Julius drove fast with loud music on.

I was going on with my duty, collecting fares, when for the first time in a long time, a passenger argued about making full payment. He could complain about how we took advantage of poor citizens and we would pay for doing that. Soon the passenger had caused a scene, getting support from two others.

In the process of engaging the passenger, I met a nozzle of a gun pointed at me. I had never had a gun pointed at me before. I had no idea how to react to that situation. Almost all other passengers stayed still, with no had no idea about what was happening with all the noise and apprehension in the matatu. The passenger took out a cellphone and made a call. A few seconds later, the music was off and Julius was driving off the usual course. I was still confused at that moment. Was Julius in on this?

Later a passenger seated at the front shouted back confirming that he was in control of the vehicle. It was a relief to find out that Julius was not collaborating with the thugs. He was under instructions, at gunpoint, to drive the matatu to a deserted road which was next to a cemeter y. We all became ver y scared as we awaited our fate in the hands of these criminals.

The three other passengers commanded everyone to be silent and remain seated and to wait for further instructions. I could hear a few screams. There was panic in the vehicle especially from the female passengers and children who were on board.

To my surprise, some passengers hoped that the driver and I would be shot for hiking the fares. This world has no much mercy left, I told myself as I stayed calm and agreed to obey all the orders given by these criminals.

That statement urging the attackers to shoot the driver and his conductor triggered total silence. The only thing I could think of then was going back home safely to Lucy.

Soon the matatu came to a halt. I was not quite sure where we were. What followed was the awkward part of the whole incident. The thugs ordered us to strip naked, ordering us to only remain with inner wear as clothing. We were also ordered to throw all our belongings out of the window.

As expected, there was disbelief that we had to be almost naked. A majority of us were hesitant to remove their clothes. But thundering voice of one of the attackers revealed there was little we could do about the orders.

“I am shooting everyone who will have his or her clothes on. I am only giving you 30 seconds to strip,” he roared.

In a few minutes we were a matatu full of almost naked people. This was very embarrassing. The ladies were even more scared since there were fears of getting exploited sexually.

Another vehicle came to where we were. The thugs quickly loaded all that we had thrown out into the vehicle. They also demanded for the matatu key from Julius, the driver and they and sped off. We sat there in disbelief, with no means to communicate to anyone for help. The night was also too cold for us to walk out half naked, not forgetting how uncomfortable it would be.

All this time Julius was busy looking for something from a toolbox which was under his seat. This clever man had a spare key hidden in the tool box. He drove us to the nearest police station where we were given shoals to cover ourselves and later recorded our statements.

Some passengers were able to call relatives. Outside the police station, news spread fast that there were naked people at the police station. Some vendors came to sell clothes while some people were just onlookers who hang around outside the police station to watch what was happening.

The police were of great help. I am however not sure whether they will be able to apprehend the criminals. We remain hopeful as Julius and I await the police to complete investigations and release our vehicle.

The hussle continues.

You can imagine the shock in Lucy’s face when she saw me walk in wearing different clothes from what I wore in the morning. I had a long night and interesting stor y to narrate to her that night.

All characters and events, even those based on real people are entirely fictional. No character bears any resemblance to any person living or dead. Any similarity is purely

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