Rogue officers caught up in curfew defiance
The latest unexplained surge in crime, the arrest of at least 20 security officers for contravening curfew orders in the last 48 hours, and the brutality during enforcement among other things have put the police – one of the key institutions in the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 - on the spotlight.
The Curfew Orders, which took effect on March 27, were, among other reasons, expected to ensure social distancing but ironically, several police officers and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers have been arrested while holed up in bars, well after 7pm.
And concerns are now being raised on whether the security officers are the weakest links in the fight against the Covid-19.
On Sunday night, concerned members of the public informed the Nairobi Area Control Room that some people had locked themselves up inside Maximum Bar within Mbotela estate.
A team of officers led by the Makongeni police boss raided the bar and arrested nine people. Seven of them were found to be police officers.
The arrested officers were identified as Traffic officer Constable Joseph Githinji Mwangi, Administration Police Constable Silas Wanjohi, AP Constable John Kamanga Muita, AP Corporal Samuel Ngugi, AP Constable Patrick Kibe, AP Constable David Muiruri and AP Constable, all attached to the Critical Infrastructure Unit headquarters.
Police headquarters also said that AP Constable Muita was found with a Ceska pistol loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition, which was confiscated.
“This could be a tip of the iceberg as other reports indicate that most of the officers arrested for contravening such orders are released unconditionally without the necessary report sent to the police headquarters,” said a senior police officer who sought anonymity.
Barely three hours before the arrest of the seven officers, two KDF soldiers of the ranks of Warrant Officer, a Directorate of Criminal Investigations detective, a Corporal of Police attached to Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa were also arrested on Kangundo Road after they were found drinking alcohol past the drinking hours.
The members of the public had informed police headquarters that some patrons were inside Hoky Tong Bar and a team of officers rushed there.
Among those arrested were KDF’s Warrant Officer Owen Odhiambo, Warrant Officer Mwangangu Mwadime, Corporal of Police William Wamalwa attached to CS Wamalwa, and Constable Joram Nyachoti Munari of DCI headquarters.
Also arrested during the operation at the bar were eight other members of the public.
Latest reports indicate there is an increase in crime incidents across the country.
The current curfew orders are not only meant to prevent the spread of the virus but also a general deterrence aimed at reducing crime.
Ironically, the country has witnessed a surge in criminal incidents, including sexual offences, in the last one week.
“Reduced opportunity to commit crimes should translate into committing fewer crimes since most criminals are kept at home during the night time hours,” said George Musamali, a security expert.
One of the areas that has in the recent past bore the brunt of crime is Nakuru’s Langalanga estate where on Friday night unknown criminals broke into several business premises and stole goods of unknown value.
This was despite the fact that there was curfew and questions have been raised on whether the police were involved or were just negligent.
“The areas were adequately patrolled and it is not clear why such criminal incidents were reported.
That police did not detect nor prevent such cases cannot be explained,” he said.
On Wednesday, last week, the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) also revealed that there was a surge in sexual offences.
About 35.8 percent of the criminal matters recorded during that period involved sexual offences, according to the Chief Justice David Maraga.
“In some cases, unfortunately, the perpetrators are close relatives, guardians or persons living with the victims who instead of taking care, are preying on the young girls,” Maraga said.
Reports from Police headquarters also indicated that several business premises had been broken into in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua in the last two weeks, with the highest number recorded between Tuesday and Saturday night.
Other breakings, involving MPesa shops have been reported in Narok, Nyeri, Kisumu and Nairobi.