Pimps, Cottages in Child Sex Deals in Malindi
The limousine sped down the crowded street in a breath-taking speed, missing a motorcyclist by a whisker.
The driver, a bulky young man, rolled down his tinted car window and wagged a finger at the bewildered motorcyclist.
It turned left into the Malindi-Lamu Road before branching off a murram street cutting through a row of fortified cottages that give Malindi its glamour.
The driver hooted once and the gates to one of the makuti-thatched cottages swung open.
The driver, who we later learnt is a seasoned pimp, had just delivered two teenage girls to one of his clients.
Residents, who know him, said he is a key figure in Malindiâ€™s intricate but flourishing child prostitution ring in which girls as young as 13 years are lured into sex slavery and ponography filming orgies.
We followed and later witnessed him delivering another young girl to an elderly tourist at a local beach.
Barely an hour after the introduction, the pair went intimate, kissing and cuckolding on the sandy sea front.
In an undercover operation in the tourism-famed seaside town, The Underworld last week came face to face with the sex merchants of Malindi who have ruined the future of many young girls.
They lure them with money and promises of good life but later abandon them â€“ penniless, abused and even sick.
Some have been tricked into travelling abroad for lucrative jobs only to end up in brothels. Others have even died in the hands of their abusers.
With the festive season beckoning, Malindi is abuzz as tourists flock in droves.
Among them are genuine tourists coming with their families. But there are those on sex tourism while others are on pornography documentary assignments.
As tourists fly into Malindi, Kenyan women, young and old, are also taking positions across the town in spirited bid to share the tourism cash.
Just like Mombasa, Malindi, hosts thousands of child sex workers, making it a haven for elderly rich men looking for young partners.
Brothels, some passing as ordinary residential houses dot the town, now jokingly referred as Kenyaâ€™s sex tourism capital.
Robert Masha, a shopkeeper, showed us one of the brothels supplying young girls to the tourists.
Located on a filthy backstreet, the single story house had been occupied by a middle-aged woman whom we learnt had moved out the previous day.
Neighbours said she had been living with four young girls whom she claimed were her sisters.
"We only discovered it was a brothel the other day. She left in a hurry after we confronted her," said a neighbour who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Investigations revealed that the brothel owners work with a group of pimps who supply the girls to tourists.
"You will never see the tourists. They wait in their cottages while young men search for the girls. Running brothels have become a big business in Malindi," said Joshua Fondo, a civil society activist.
Most of the young sex workers come from as far Kisii, Migori, Muranga and Vihiga. There are victims of poverty, broken families or just peer pressure.
Some of the girls attach themselves to brothels while others jointly rent small rooms from where they run their trade.
Betty Jumwa, an elder at Gogoda village within Malindi town location told The Underworld of how she recently rescued five girls who were being held in a brothel.
"I stormed the brothel and arrested the woman who had been forcing young girls, including her daughters, to have sex with old men," said Jumwa.
She added: "The women charged Sh300 per girl for locals, and itâ€™s apparent the pimps later sold the girls to tourists at a higher fee. The woman is now in prison."
Jumwa said two of the rescued girls aged 13 and 14 later tested HIV positive.
Some of the girls interviewed said they find themselves trapped in a web of sex trade after being lured by agents who promise those jobs in salons and hotels.
They endure dehumanising sexual activities, including sodomy, group sex, drugging and assaults.
Further investigations revealed that some parents encouraged child prostitution by entrusting their children with tourists little known to them with the hope of monetary rewards.
Some â€˜philanthropistâ€™ tourists take up needy girls and promise to pay their school fees only to turn against them.
"We have a case where a tourist eloped with a young girl he has been sponsoring in a local school. He asked the parents to allow her accompany him to the beach. She never returned and we hear she is now working as a prostitute in Germany," said Florence Motanga Chizwe of Kawia Ufike women group that rehabilitates victims of sexual abuse.
Chizwe said some beach operators were also involved in sexual abuse against young girls.
"My group is taking care of three young girls impregnated by beach boys. They use the money they get from the tourists to lure the girls out of school," she said.
But the abuse is not confined to girls, young boys have been sodomized and forced to take drugs. Ronny Mwalamu, a child right activist said although tourism was to blame for the rising child sex prostitution, the buck stops with the parents, some of whom she says willingly sold their children to strangers.
Just last week, a 56-year-old German tourist was accused of having sex with the 13-year-old minor at a hotel in Mombasa.
He, however, defended himself, saying she had taken the girl to his hotel room to give her school fees. Observers said this was a common trick used by wayward tourists.
Most culprits escape the law because they prefer secluded and fortified cottages.
Attempts to access one of the cottages hit a dead end when a shark-faced guard stopped us about 10 metres from the gate.
"No entry here. This is private property," he said above the din of barking dogs.
By John Oywa, The Standard