Irony of rising criminal activities in time of dawn to dusk curfew

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 00:00 | By
National Police Service spokesman Charles Owino. PD/FILE

Zadock Angira, Reuben Mwambingu and Mathew Ndung’u

The dusk-to-dawn curfew, one of the measures the government put in place to secure the country from the coronavirus pandemic, has now bred an ogre— insecurity— that now stalks many Kenyans in the stillness of night.

That it is causing sleepless nights to many, who are trapped and cannot dare venture out of their houses for fear of being caught and either sent to quarantine centres or clobbered by police on patrol for violating the curfew, which came into effect in March, is captured by the rising statistics in crime. 

The curfew, being enforced by police across the country, was expected to be a general deterrence to the criminals because of the presence of security personnel, but has seen a surge in gang-related incidents.

While the police are yet to collate the national statistics on crime trends, the number of incidents being reported are high. 

For instance, on Saturday night, a gang attacked and stabbed Hassan Abdi Koote to death in unclear circumstances in Eastleigh.

The Starehe Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) office yesterday launched investigations and is holding about 18 people believed to have been involved or have information on the fatal attack. 

“We want to establish the real identity of the attackers and the motive of the fatal attack,” an officer involved in probe told the People Daily.

Yesterday, National Police Service spokesman Charles Owino, however, declined to comment on the latest incidents, saying he was yet to be briefed.

“You can only reduce crime but you cannot deter them fully. However, I am not properly briefed on the current situation in the country,” he said.

Last Wednesday, Ihab Kariuki Salim, a suspected member of a notorious gang operating at night despite heavy police presence, was shot dead along the Eastern bypass.

The slain suspect is said to have been the leader of a gang that committed two robberies at night in Umoja and Tena estates earlier that week.

Salim and his gang members are said to have attacked and shot dead Rogers Opiyo, a Meru University student at Phadam Hospital in Umoja at around 7.30pm.

The gang posed as patients before they pounced on others and started robbing them. When they realised that the deceased knew them, they shot him in the neck, killing him on the spot.

Salim had been charged at the Makadara Court in May 2018 after he was linked to the murder of James Ndae Chege on September 19, 2015.

Police patrol

Nairobi Region police commander Philip Ndolo said police officers on patrol encountered four thugs at the hospital in Tena Estate. Police also recovered a Webley Scot pistol and a magazine with four rounds of ammunition.

Police have also enhanced operations with at least six suspects, four in botched robberies, shot dead by police, according to reports. However, some police commanders are adamant that in some areas crime incidents have reduced.

On the night of April 26, four armed robbers raided Whispering Springs Restaurant in Upper Hill and tied the watchman before breaking into the store where they stole cash, car wash machine, alcohol and electronic gadgets worth about Sh1 million.

The same night along Farasi Garden Villas in Spring Valley three robbers attacked two KK Security guards and ambushed Lucky Farah, an American and forced her into her house where they robbed her of Sh150,000 and assorted jewelry. 

On Tuesday evening, police shot dead a suspect who was said to be part of a seven-man gang which had robbed a resident of Kayole of his phone and cash at gunpoint.

Denish Ochieng, a resident of Thawabu in Kayole area, said he was confronted by the gang members who robbed him of the phone and Sh3,200 before injuring him.

Officers on patrol were alerted and rushed to the scene and managed to gun down one of them and recovered a revolver.

On the night of April 27 in Mutuini, a man was hacked to death by unknown people. Police said the deceased used to live with a woman only known to the locals as Shiro Wanjiru who was away then.

At least five other cases of mob injustice have been reported over the same period. On Thursday at around 4am, an unknown man aged about 21 was lynched by residents after he was found attempting to break into an M-Pesa shop in Kaberia, Riruta. 

On Tuesday, Boniface Makori Matoke, a boda boda rider was attacked by members of the public along Dagoretti Road after he snatched a mobile phone from a pedestrian.

Some of the perpetrators of these crimes are youth.

According to the Economic Survey 2020 released last week by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, there was also an increase in the number of children offenders last year. 

A total of 6,030 children were found to be in conflict with the law as compared to 5,120 the previous year, representing a 17.8 per cent increase.

Meanwhile, a number of robberies have also been reported across the country.

On Wednesday at around 8.50pm, two men forced their way into a petrol depot in Makuyu town pretending that they were escaping from police enforcing curfew orders. 

They turned out to be robbers and tied Stephen Ndung’u’s hands before they robbed him of Sh40,000.

The same night at Ruga trading centre in Rachuonyo South, a gang of six men, some dressed in jungle attire, raided the home of Abdulahi Ali and robbed him of Sh200,000, a laptop, phones and gas cylinders. 

In Molo town, unknown robbers broke the rear wall of an electronic shop and stole phones worth Sh143,500, Safaricom airtime worth Sh90,000 and Sh15,000 cash.

The Rift Valley region police boss Marcus Ocholla, however, said his region had recorded a substantial decrease in crime since the curfew was imposed.

In Mombasa criminal gangs have also taken advantage of the curfew to infiltrate parts of region on a robbery spree.

Sources say the gangs are alleged to have mastered ways of evading police after spending the first few weeks of the curfew to study police movements during their night patrols.

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