County boss links masks to rise in Mombasa gang raids

Friday, September 25th, 2020 15:00 |
Police officers beef up security during the first day of lockdown in Old Town, Mombasa, Kenya. The ministry of health on Wednesday restricted movements in Eastleigh residential estate in Nairobi and Old Town in Mombasa following the high number of the novel coronavirus cases reported in the two areas. (Xinhua)

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

Criminal gangs in Mombasa have reportedly taken advantage of face masks to hide their identities while executing crimes, County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo has revealed.

Speaking on the sidelines of a forum on counter-violent extremism at a local hotel, Kitiyo observed that some of the criminals had resorted to wearing masks, dark shades and caps to hide their faces while attacking residents.

He warned that “such obnoxious creativity will be short-lived” as security agents are “equally creative” in countering criminal activities.

“We are aware of the tricks by the criminal gangs to use masks thinking they are hiding their faces.

That is just a temporary strategy. What they do not know is that they can hide their faces but not their entire bodies.

We are equally creative. This  is why we are able to nip their plans in the bud,” said Kitiyo.

He said the officers’ swift response has seen criminal activities ‘impressively decline’ especially during the Covid-19 period.” 

 Kitiyo has expressed optimism that the crime rate will likely decline once curfew restrictions are relaxed but warned that security officers will remain alert.

 Sporadic crimes  

Kitiyo further noted that Mombasa had successfully rehabilitated returnees from Somalia adding that currently recruitment into radicalisation is “almost at zero.” “So far we have about 900 returnees. 

Some have successfully rehabilitated and are being monitored while others are being investigated to establish their motives of crossing to Somalia. 

Some could have gone to Somalia just for normal businesses and that is why investigations are important here,” he explained.

“At the moment,  the rate of crime in the region has been on the decline in the past few months.

Being  a city, you realise that often we experience sporadic crimes which are common in major towns,” he  added. 

The county commissioner also noted that night patrols by police will still continue, with or without the dusk to dawn curfew.  He warned that anyone caught committing crime will face the full force of the law.

 Human rights lobby Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid, said it is imperative to build trust in the justice system so as to amicably end radicalisation.

“We believe that if we respect human rights, rule of law and the due process is followed, then we will build trust in the system and everyone will be willing to participate. We will then need not to worry about radicalisation,” explained Khalid.

Similar sentiments were reckoned by Coast Regional Coordinator in the Office of Public Prosecutor Alloys Kemo, who said in most cases, witnesses are afraid of testifying in various criminal and terrorism related cases because of lack of trust in the system.

“We are here to build trust so  that we iron out some of these challenges and bring to an end the era of stagnating some of these cases because of witnesses refusing to testify,” said Kemo.

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