The Rising Insecurity Wave

Published on 30th November -0001

As the siren of the Kerugoya- Kutus Funeral Services Van wailed on its way to Kithimu village, disturbed humanity lined up the road to catch a glimpse of the final journey of a businessman they sincerely loved. The whole village broke into mourning as it dawned on them that they would never again see the shrewd businessman in the land of the living. Kihika, who was with the deceased on the fateful day, alongside Kimani, Kihoro, Pastor Gatimu, Ngote and Aura share their insights on the rising insecurity wave in Kenya.

African Executive: Kihika, what exactly happened?

Kihika: We were on our way to Embu town to check on our business when five armed people approached us and ordered the pickup to stop. In the twinkling of an eye, two of the gangsters onto the back of the pickup as three shoved their way into the drivers’ cabin. They forcefully ejected two women who had been given a lift and ordered me to lie down. Those in the front wrested the pickup from the driver, shot him thrice at point blank range and commandeered the vehicle. On realizing they were nearing a police roadblock, they abandoned the car after confiscating my mobile phone and headed towards nearby slums. I alerted the police who I came across and in a short while, there was a gun battle, leading to the death of one gangster and a remandee.

Kimani: Accomplices to these gangsters had been arrested and remanded for committing crime. It seems the loot must have been quite big that the people under lock and key must have been holding the code to the sharing of the loot. Their colleagues had to secure their release in order to share the loot.

AE: How did they enter the prison?

Kihoro: The whole story is quite shady. It is said they visited the heavily guarded prison past the visiting hour. They neither signed the visitors’ book nor left their Identity Cards as the law stipulates. On reaching the remandees’ quarters, they requested to see them in pretext of awarding them some bars of soap. Immediately the door was opened, they fired at the prison wardens on the feet and killed one. Just then other colleagues knew that a group was coming for their rescue hence positioning themselves at a point of rescue group is a mystery. How the gatekeeper did not inspect the so called "soap" is beyond comprehension.

Kimani: The mobile phone recovered from the dead gangster indicated that there had been communication between some prison officers and the raiders. One officer allegedly inquired if they had completed their mission and upon being told yes, they agreed to meet at a designated quarter to chart out a way forward. Little did he know he was walking into the hands of the Intelligence.

AE: How significant was the deceased?

Kimani: This is a man who had risen from rags to riches out of much toil. Just when he was beginning to enjoy the fruit of his labor; his life was nipped like a flower bud before it opens. He had several butcheries, a cereals shop and cow unit employing a total of 15 people besides brokers. The fate of these hangs on the balance.

Pastor Gatimu: Crime is rising at alarming proportions. In Kiambu, robbers meticulously remove blocks from houses and just crawl into them. If one has burglar proof doors, they come with welding and cutting equipment, request to use your electricity and cut the doors and window bars away. In the latest incident, some came with two tractors and pulled somebody’s gate and burglar-proof door away before walking into the house. In fact, they warn that one has to choose between opening the door or perishing in the subsequent inferno. Their tactics keep on changing however. The last time I was in South Africa, I witnessed someone being robbed at gunpoint along the street and so as not to attract attention, the robbers ordered him to keep on laughing as if nothing was wrong.

Aura: In Butere/Mumias and Kakamega districts, the thugs are against one having an iron roofed house and electronic equipment. Homesteads with such are often prime targets. This explains the high poverty levels here. People are afraid to invest and be left at the mercy of violent robbers!

AE: Why are crime incidences escalating?

Gatimu: I think the ratio of policemen to citizens is quite low. We have very few police officers. Then there are high incidences of arms proliferation. I believe some security officers are colluding with criminals. What explains somebody being arrested today for evident crime then being transported back in a police van, free in the sight of all, the following day? Besides, in Ileho division I hear, prison officers are on the frontline drinking illicit brew! The police only come to extort some tax and leave. The whole operation, though proscribed is done quite openly! Even the police officers are endangered too. Look at a prison like Shikusa. One prison officer takes care of around ten inmates in the field. Can’t they overpower him and take off with his gun? Besides, the prison has no defined boundaries. Inmates just melt within the nearby tea and maize plantations!

AE: There is much talk on arming Securicor guards, Ngote. What is your view?

Ngote: Our employers are terrified. Some of them pay us meager salary and believe that we can get annoyed and shoot them. Two, there is no use arming those who have not been trained to use guns. Three, thugs usually have little to do with us because they know we are unarmed but if we get guns, we shall always be the number one target.

AE: What is the way forward out of crime?

Gatimu: I think people’s standards of living should be improved. The gap between the rich and poor is too wide.

Kihoro: Security operations should be privatized. Private dealings tend to be more efficient. In addition, people who report crime are rarely given police security. Their identity leaks out most of the time. Then, those whose property is stolen are usually turned into criminals. They are the ones to foot transport to the scene of crime, visit police stations for many months, offer the police officers lunch and supper and keep on being dodged until they surrender the recovered property to the police. It is quite agonizing reporting a crime. That’s why people literally take off in case of an accident. They are afraid of the harrowing and unfriendly police procedures. The court system is another story. A case can drag up to five years. Who has time for that?

Kimani: The government should be held responsible for each crime that occurs. Each time a crime occurs, the government should compensate the victims. It is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens against plunder of life and property. The people pay taxes for this to be done. If the government is thus unable, it should be held responsible. This will put it on its toes! If the government does not enforce the law, who will do it? Otherwise, morale for investment will always be low and wherever investment exists will be interrupted.

AE: Thanks very much friends. If the strongman is powerless, how will the weak one survive?

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