Why do Third Worlders loot at disaster scenes? This is the question observers are asking after it emerged that Kenyan soldiers looted the Westgate Mall in the aftermath of the recent terrorist siege.
The wholesale looting—which even included the removal of items from dead people—has brought back memories of the looting of Nairobi airport; New Orleans, during Hurricane Katrina, and London in 2011—and of the lack of looting in Japan after the tsunami of 2011.
According to the Star Tribune, the Kenyan troops—already blamed for causing the destruction of the mall with their indiscriminate use of explosives and heavy arms—looted jewelry shops, ripped mobile phones from displays, emptied cash registers and plundered alcohol stocks while supposedly “rescuing” hostages.
One witness told the Associated Press that he saw a Kenyan soldier take cigarettes out of a dead man’s pocket. Shopkeepers are currently carrying away merchandise out of their stores and restaurants to prevent any more thefts.
Soon after the attack began on Sept. 21, Kenyan officials put a cordon around the mall, allowing only security forces and a few government personnel to pass through.
Since then, alcohol stocks from the restaurants have been depleted. One business owner at the mall said money and mobile phones were taken from bags and purses left behind in the mayhem. The owner insisted on anonymity to avoid retribution from Kenya’s government.
Employees of a book shop on the mall’s second floor returned to find registers yanked open and cash gone. The store’s laptops were also stolen. All the shop’s books remained in place, said owner Paku Tsavani.
Another witness, Sandeep Vidyarthi went into the mall Sunday to help a relative retrieve equipment from his dental practice. Inside he said he passed shop after shop that had been looted, including the Rado store that sells high-end Swiss watches.
As he was leaving the mall, Vidyarthi passed a jewelry shop near the front entrance. The owner, he said, was presenting security officials with a long list of missing precious stones and high-end necklaces.
“The jeweler had written down this very long list,” he said.
It is ironic, said the management team of one Westgate business, that store owners must now make reports of stolen goods to the same security forces suspected of doing the thieving.
Paresh Shah, a volunteer who helped evacuate the injured and recover the dead during the first day, said he carried out the body of Aleem Jamal.
Shah frowned at the memory and said he saw a Kenyan soldier take Jamal’s cigarettes while in the ambulance.
“I could never do that, take a dead man’s cigarettes,” Shah said.
Jamal’s family retrieved the body at the morgue, where his wife, Taz Jamal, said her husband’s wallet was missing.
Optician Tariq Harunani told the Washington Post that dozens of frames and pairs of sunglasses had been stolen from his store.
“The whole place has been done over,” he said.
“The watch counters have been cleared; the jewelry shop is empty; there’s no jewelry on the necklace stands.”
His brother Yasser said: “We know who’s done it, but what can we do?
“They ransacked it. The military secured the place, and in that time the place is emptied.”
He added: “This is Kenya. Let’s just face it, what’s lost is lost.”
This episode of wholesale looting is not the first instance committed by Kenyan troops. In August this year, Kenyan “security forces” engaged in a massive looting session when they were called in to secure Nairobi’s international airport following a fire at that location.
That time, Kenyan police joined in with soldiers to loot electronics, a bank and an automated teller during and after the blaze.
A report revealed that police “guarding” the site even attempted to take a safe from the burned-out arrivals hall, which also houses several foreign currency exchange shops.
According to the reports, police officers who guard the entrance to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are well known in Nairobi for demanding bribes from taxi drivers and other vehicles with Kenyan drivers.
The controlled media made its usual attempts at explaining why the Kenyan “security forces” engaged in the looting, claiming they are “poorly paid” etc., etc.—but of course they ignore the reality that Third Worlders behaved exactly the same way in New Orleans during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, and during the London riots of 2011.
During the flooding of New Orleans, black police were captured on film participating in the looting of shops in the city. The controlled media did not try and explain this behavior by references to “low pay” and instead largely ignored it after a brief burst of publicity.
The black police were joined in their looting efforts by so many other blacks that a temporary jail was constructed of chain-link cages in the city train station.
The pattern of not looting bookshops—seen in the Kenyan Westgate Mall incident—was a mirror of the nonwhite riots in London in 2011. During that outbreak of violence, blamed of course on “white racism” (as being responsible for nonwhite “social exclusion,” “joblessness,” “discrimination,” etc.—the usual made-up excuses), the book shop Waterstones was notable in that it was not looted.
On the worst night of London rioting almost every shop in Clapham Junction was ransacked—except one. The bookshop.
In one of the most telling images of the summer, looters stole TVs, hair products and iPods, but the Waterstone’s branch was left untouched.
The “joke” the next day was that the rioters do not know how to read. Simon, the manager of the camping shop Blacks, watched it all from an upstairs window, hiding in terror as hundreds of looters plundered his shop and the street.
“They smashed our window, ripped the plasma TVs off our walls, took all our jackets and rucksacks. I saw them go into Claire’s Accessories, break into NatWest, liberate our neighbours Toni & Guy of hair products. They carted off iPods from Currys, clothes from Debenhams, mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse. I was horrified.
“But Waterstone’s, directly opposite us was untouched. For the looters it was as if it did not exist.”
When Waterstone’s deputy manager Alicia Baiger arrived next day to a street littered with broken glass and debris, she was amazed to find that her shop—with its £199 Sony eReaders and three-for-two £10 paperbacks—had suffered “not even a scratch”.
Finally, observers compare the black behavior in Kenya, America and the UK with that of the Japanese in Japan following the devastating tsunami of 2011.
According to The Week magazine, in an article titled “Why is there no looting in Japan?”a puzzled liberal journalist wrote that
The chaos and theft that have followed many earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis were noticeably absent in the wake of Japan’s 8.9-magnitude quake. Instead, people formed long, orderly lines outside grocery stores, where employees tried to fairly distribute limited supplies of food and water. “Looting simply does not take place in Japan,” says Gregory Pflugfelder, an expert in Japanese culture at Columbia University, as quoted by CNN. “I’m not even sure if there’s a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear ‘looting.'”
Another article in the Washington Times asked “Where are the Japanese looters?” and went on to say that “The absence of looting in Japan has taken many western observers by surprise.
“In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans experienced looting on a scale that astonished even American cynics. After last year’s earthquake, the looting in Chile was serious enough to require military intervention.
“There was looting in Haiti after its earthquake last year and in England during the 2007 floods. So far, though, there is no looting reported from Japan.”