State admits Kenya crime soaring

July 13, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti on Monday publicly admitted that the country’s security had deteriorated.

Prof Saitoti told reporters that the government was concerned at the soaring crime in the country and assured that adequate measures had been taken to stem it.

“Indeed we (the government) are aware there has been a rise of that carjacking and other criminal activities but we have taken measures,” he said without divulging any statistics.

It was the first time the government admitted that there has been rising crime.

Previously, the Internal Security Minister and Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali have insisted that the security status of the country was at manageable levels.

When taken to task by Capital News to explain the specific measures taken, he said: “A number of criminals have actually been arrested and others have been dealt a blow whenever they have tried to kill other people.”

Prof Saitoti said law enforcement agencies were under instructions to devise ways of reducing the emerging trends of sophisticated crime like kidnapping, mainly in Nairobi where police recently announced they were investigating 11 new cases.

“Kidnapping is another nuisance, a new one that has come in and we are dealing with it,” he said.

There have been a high number of armed robberies and murders targeting high-profile personalities in Nairobi which include the killing of the Youth and Sports Permanent Secretary Kinuthia Murugu who was shot by gangsters in June but died last week at the Intensive Care Unit in Nairobi hospital.

Police are yet to make any head way in the investigations into Mr Murugu’s killing.

A female companion who was with the PS on the night he was shot was briefly detained for questioning by the police and released later. No charges were preferred against her.

Two weeks ago, three CID officers who bumped onto a robbery at a fuel station in Athi River while on patrol were gunned down and their rifles stolen by gun men.

Head of the Special Crime Prevention Unit (SCPU) Richard Katola whose department was assigned the task of searching for them told Capital News that three of them have since been killed and two firearms recovered while the fourth one was arrested. Two others are still at large.

A week ago, five gun men stormed the home of Assistant Justice Minister William Cheptumo in Lang’ata and held him and his family hostage for more than three hours before they grabbed some Sh300,000, electronic goods and fled using his vehicle which was later recovered at the crime-infested Mathare slum.

None of the suspect has been arrested, police said.

And on Saturday night, gangsters shot and seriously wounded a city businessman Ashit Sharma who led Operation Reduce Crime (ORC), one of the most vibrant community policing initiative for Parklands residents.

Mr Sharma was attacked on Forest Road as he stood at an accident scene involving two vehicles.

Police said the businessman who was driving a vehicle fitted with high frequency communication gadgets which he had just parked at the scene to talk to the motorists was shot by gangsters whom they believe recognised him and his vehicle.

“It appears they knew him because they just opened fire at him and stole his licensed pistol,” Gigiri divisional police chief David Kerina said.

Mr Sharma is recuperating at the Aga Khan Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Police records show that at least ten carjacking and armed robberies occur in Nairobi every week. Three or more of these involve cases where people are wounded by gun shots or just killed by the gangsters.

Meanwhile, Kenyans have been urged to use their mobile phones to improve their security by putting a trusted friend or a security agency on their speed dial.

KK security manager Sasha Nginja stated on Monday that doing this would help other people to be aware when one is in trouble.

“It really makes a difference. If you are being attacked or whatever the case may be it is calling and someone is hearing what is going on,”  he said.

He further cautioned against panic when under attack saying that it may aggravate the situation.

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