Rein in gangsters before they fester
Reports that four people were killed in revenge attacks by two gangs in Nakuru should be a wakeup call to both residents and law enforcement agencies.
Nakuru residents have fallen victim to vicious gangs dubbed Confirmed and Wazito wa Tanzania who have expanded their territories and recruited members right under the nose of security agencies.
What is more disturbing are allegations that some individuals from the police service could be abetting the proliferation of gangs for financial benefit.
Marauding gangs, which have a presence in other cities such as Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa instill fear and desperation in the lives of law-abiding citizens.
A recent study by the National Crime Research profiled 46 organised criminal gangs that engaged in extortion, illegal levies, violence, hire for revenge, executions, illegal oathing and promoting hatred.
Others were engaged in burglary, drug peddling, theft, murder, human and weapon trafficking, cattle rustling, evictions, murder or as gangs for hire by businessmen and politicians for protection or intimidation of rivals.
Another study released last month by Global Initiative on gang crime and the role of politicians in Kenya pointed out that urban growth, political patronage of gangs, and the criminalisation of urban municipal services are inextricably linked.
This has created lucrative profit-making opportunities for gangs and other criminal groups in areas characterised by high unemployment, especially among the youth.
Some gangs have become wealthy by providing informal services or taxing residents for transport, waste removal, electricity and water provision.
The Global Initiative study warned that Kenyan politicians have been assembling gangs ahead of the 2022 general election.
That is why we were concerned by indications by the provincial administration that the Nakuru gangs were being funded by politicians.
It is immoral for politicians to exploit the condition of unemployed youth for criminal activity.
It is ironic that these are the very individuals who are entrusted with the responsibility of passing laws on national security, youth empowerment and wealth creation.
It would be remembered that perpetrators of the 2007/8 violence found a ready army in various organised gangs.
We are equally concerned about the reported complicity of the security services who are supposed to tame crime. Similarly, we call for swift and stern disciplinary action against those involved.