Updated Tuesday Nov 08 2022
NAIROBI: Senior journalist Arshad Sharif spent the last night of his life at AmmoDump Kwenia Shooting Range in Magadi — a dark and desolated location four hours out of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
The range can be accessed after a rough and difficult drive of two hours of rough patches, dusty drivers, stony blocks and a zigzag adventurous path from the junction of Magadi Road and Kwenia in Kamukuru shopping centre in Kajiado West Sub-County.
Geo's investigation team travelled to the site to know about the last moments, last conversations and last memories of the Pakistani journalist who mingled with guests at the joint associated with Pakistan and Indian nationals.
Security at the site has been enhanced after Sharif's killing and entry of anyone without invitation and permission is banned.
The staff, who spoke to Geo News on the condition of anonymity, said they have been instructed by their bosses not to comment on anything and not to interact with anyone. The vast shooting site is managed by Khurram Ahmad, Waqar Ahmad and his wife Morin Waqar, who is a Kenyan national.
Their names feature in the investigation reports and questions have been asked of three of them to share details of their employees and the activities at the site, specifically for the two days when Sharif was there.
The staff shared that Sharif arrived at the site with Khurram on the evening of August 20. He was carrying a bag pack for the overnight sleep and spent the night in the camp. The site has over 50 huts designed specifically for those who book the site for overnight stay.
Two Pakistani staff at the site said they were shocked to learn that Sharif had been killed.
“I was surprised to see him at the site on the evening of October 22. I approached him and asked if he was Arshad Sharif and he acknowledged. I went to him many times to ask if he needed anything but he was not demanding and minded his own business. He spoke to some foreigners who were at the site that night,” shared a staff member originally from Karachi.
A local staff member shared that Sharif went to bed early that night. “He had dinner with others. I heard him saying he was tired after a long and treacherous journey and needed rest. He retired early to his camp after dinner. He looked in a hurry to go to sleep.”
Sharif took part in a shooting activity on October 23, according to the staff. He looked happy and relaxed and it didn’t look like he had any fear and was haunted, said a staffer who served water to him during the day as it was humid and hot in the mountainous range.
“He went on a car ride with someone else, had a good lunch, used his laptop many times and spoke on the phone many times during the day,” said the staff who added that Sharif made calls using his local number and not wifi as this connection is very weak and unstable at the site.
The staff said that Sharif left the site with Khurram at around 8pm after having a grill food dinner.
“We were all shocked when we received a call at the night that he has been killed and the next morning a large contingent of the police visited the site. Pakistan embassy team and embassy staff also visited us and talked to witnesses and workers at the site. We answered all their questions,” shared a staff member.
The same staff member said they had no life in the camp. “We are cut off here from the rest of the world, our families and friends. It’s a dry desert.”
The security guard at the entrance told Geo News he travels every day by foot for three hours to arrive at work and then walks back to his tribal home in another district by foot.
“We make our living by hard means. Locals here are very poor and live in inhuman conditions.”
The shooting site is owned by Khurram and Waqar, who are originally from Karachi and are at the centre of Sharif's murder investigation. The two hold Canadian nationalities and several residential properties in Nairobi including the posh Riverside block of flats where Sharif lived for two months until making his last journey to the shooting range.
It is worth noting that the management of the camp never gave an official comment on the death of the slain journalist.
The brothers started AmmoDump Kwenia Range around seven years ago. According to the site’s website, it provides recreational activities such as shooting practices, police and firearms training, military shooting training, bike and motor rides and weekend and weekdays camping. The site has no electricity and it uses its own generators for light. The border of Tanzania is located 880 kilometres from the joint.
The shooting site is spread over several acres of vast land where there is no human life in any direction. After around a 30 minutes drive, an ancient tribe called Maasai lives in the area. This is the tribe known for living a difficult and rough life and they rely on goats and sheep herding for a living. When there is drought, animals die in the nearby deserts in thousands.
The area is located nearly 100 kilometres from Nairobi County where Sharif lived at Riverside flats built in a rich neighbourhood of Kileleshwa that borders Westlands.
Waqar and Khurram own a farmhouse in Tinga as well which is located between Nairobi and Kwenria shooting sites. After Sharif was shot dead at the Magadi Road and Kweria shooting junction as he approached the highway, Waqar told the police he drove the journalist to the Tinga farmhouse where his brother Waqar was waiting for him. He said Sharif succumbed to two bullets and died on the way but didn’t explain why he didn’t seek medical aid on the way as it was clear that Sharif had been shot fatally.
The Tinga farmhouse is an agricultural piece of land where the brothers practice irrigation and farm vegetables plus fruits. It is an area where they have invested largely and locals here know them well.
AmmoDump highlights its status as a major recce site for security personnel looking to hone their shooting skills in warfare. It offers services to governments, individuals and private security companies.
There is a registered company named AmmoDump Limited. It’s a Kenyan registered company whose parent company, AmmoDump Securities Incorporated, is registered in Ontario, Canada. Its website says: “We specialise in defence and security equipment. AmmoDump was formed in 2015 by a group of like-minded individuals who sought to combine best-in-class brands, assets and people within the complex risk management industry.”
It is worth noting that the family which hosted him is known to be wealthy but they lead a low profile in Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. They run a real estate business in the city.
Khurram has said Sharif died in a “mistaken identity” incident. The lawyer for both Khurram and Waqar has said his clients are cooperating with the police investigation.
Both the brothers were sent questions regarding the murder but they declined to comment.
Murtaza Ali Shah is a Geo News correspondent
Nyaboga Kiage is a Kenyan crime reporter associated with Kenya's Nation Africa.