Concern over rising teenage face of cr*me

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 | By
Kilimani OCPD Lucas Ogara says teenage crime has reached alarming levels. Photo/PD/FILE

Zadock Angira and Roy Lumbe

The viral video of Susan Wangui on Wednesday admitting that her teenage son, Derrick Ndung’u, who had been stoned to death by a mob for snatching a phone from a hawker was a well-known thug, brought to the fore an uncomfortable truth about the new face of criminals in the country.

The 19-year-old boy is said to have gone into crime two years ago, after completing his high school education and exemplifies the worrying trend of teenagers who are opting for a life in crime.

The trigger-happy teens are vicious and are not afraid to do anything, even kill to get their way.

On Tuesday, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the murder of Pamoja FM journalist, Mohammed Marjan, with the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) George Kinoti saying the juvenile was positively identified following an analysis of the Integrated Command Control and Communication Centre (IC3) CCTV footage.

Crime surge

The increased involvement of youth in violent crime and other forms of juvenile delinquency in most parts of the country is a matter of concern to police.

In Nairobi, such incidents have been reported in Kibera, Mathare, Kayole and Kawangware.

Kilimani OCPD Lucas Ogara said deteriorating family values and living conditions are to blame for the surge in crime among teenagers.

“The six suspects captured on CCTV during the Kibera attack were all young men. Teenage crime has reached an alarming rate.

The incidents have increased but what is more threatening is that the average age of criminals is decreasing day by day,” he said.

On Wednesday, detectives from the Special Services Unit (SSU) shot dead four young men along Kangundo Road and recovered two Mini Ceska pistols and 11 rounds of ammunition. An officer from the unit was shot in the leg during the 11am shootout.

According to the detectives, the gang has been linked to a recent M-Pesa attack in Ruiru, the raid on a supermarket in Katani and the shooting of a university student in Umoja. Police said the gang operated from Kayole and Dandora.

 Ogara also cited illiteracy and unemployment, where the youth resort to crime to meet their daily money needs as reasons for increased rate of crime amongst the youth.

“Juvenile violence can be as a result of the exposure to domestic violence, parental fighting and lack of parental supervision.

Teenagers, especially in the slums are not under strict control of their parents,” Ogara said.

Become vicious

Police, however, say if the youth were engaged and presented with opportunities for mental and financial stability, there would be a lesser number of the youth who resort to criminal activities. 

“Parents must find a way to spend more time with the children and have healthy discussions with them,” Ogara said.

The closure of schools and other learning institutions has also left most youth idling in estates, exposing them to bad company. In Kawangware, some youths spend their day playing cards in open fields. To an unsuspecting eye, they are simply children at play. 

However, the youth, who sit in groups of as many as 15, are a cabal of thieves who aren’t afraid to rob residents. Under the cover of darkness, they become even more vicious and attack homes and break into shops.

Dagoretti OCPD George Seda, however, yesterday refuted the reports saying those were isolated cases. 

“We have enhanced patrols in the areas since Kawangware is a hotspot. There could be a general increase in juvenile crime but according to our reports, few incidents have been reported,” Seda said.

In Nakuru, teenage criminals are also terrorising residents. On Wednesday, some youth in Nakuru from Bondeni slums raided the Ziwani stage in Nakuru and vandalised matatus parked at the yard.

Armed with knives, clubs, and stones, the youth ambushed the operators at the stage as they were picking up commuters, leaving at least 15 passenger vehicles vandalised.

It is alleged that the youths accused the operators of engaging in open defecation near their estates hence the stand-off. 

According to the 2020 Economic Survey, 6,030 children were found to be in conflict with the law as compared to 5,120 the previous year.

Children in conflict with the law were categorised as: Child delinquency (1,169), Child offender (1,211), child radicalisation (37), child truancy (3,454) and drug and substance abuse (159). 

 A total of 8,098 children were referred to courts compared to 9,115 the previous year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). 

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