The latest unexplained surge in crime, the arrest of at least 20 police officers for contravening curfew orders in the last 48 hours, and the brutality during enforcement of the curfew orders among other things have put the police – one of the key institutions in the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus – 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 have been arrested while holed up in bars, well after 7 pm.
And concerns are now being raised on whether the police service could be one of the weakest links in the fight against the Covid-19.
On Sunday, April 5, at around 10 pm 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 OCS 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 (AP) 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 (CIPU) headquarters.
Police headquarters also said that AP Constable Muita was found with a Ceska pistol loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition at the bar which was confiscated.
Barely three hours before the arrest of the seven officers, two Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers both of the ranks of warrant officer, a Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) 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 the 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.
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 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 have 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 per cent of the criminal matters recorded during that period involved sexual offences, according to 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.
Such criminal incidents have been reported across the country. In Uasin Gishu County, a woman was raped and killed at Langas in Eldoret town last Wednesday night before her body was dumped on a trench next to a road.
The previous night, Stanley Migaine, a businessman, lost stock and cash worth at least Sh100,000 when thugs broke into his shop in Eldoret town. The criminals stole several crates of drinks and TV sets among other items.
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 M-Pesa shops have also been reported in Narok, Nyeri, Kisumu and Nairobi counties. In Kisumu, a team of residents led by the Migosi MCA Rodgers Otieno launched an operation following a surge in criminal incidents in the area. They arrested some suspects including Charles Odhiambo, a Bishop at green-Yelolow Cross Church in Kondele.
The Bishop, upon interrogation, admitted that they were working in cahoots with two police officers from Maseno and Railways Police Unit.
On Sunday, the Kisumu County Police Commander Ranson Lolmodooni said they had launched investigations into the cases.
“The suspect has confessed that they work with some police officers. We are not taking that lightly and we will investigate and take action against all the perpetrators of crime,” he said.
The National Police Training College Kiganjo has also become the focus of attention by the Ministry of Health officials after one of the officers who had been undergoing training developed the Covid-19 symptoms at his rural home in Homa Bay County.
The Kiganjo Campus, though a learning institution, was not closed when President Uhuru Kenyatta directed on March 15 that all learning institutions be closed.
At least 3,000 officers have been undergoing various training courses including a ‘Standardisation’ course for AP officers for the last three months.
On April 3, one of the officers who has been undergoing the training -Administration Police Constable Wycliffe Otieno Oremo -travelled to his rural home in Omboga, Rachuonyo North Sub-County in Homa Bay County while exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms. The Rachuonyo North Ministry of Health officials had on Sunday visited the patient.