NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 25 – One of the major priorities of the newly appointed Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere is to get rid of organized gangs and their criminal trends in the country, particularly abductions and well established extortion rings.
Mr Iteere has indicated he would use his early weeks in office to put in place strategies of fighting crime, particularly those planned and executed by organized gangs including Mungiki and other quasi groups.
This, he said, includes kidnapping and extortion associated with such gangs which have lately turned out to be violent, as witnessed in Nairobi’s Komarock estate where a six year-old boy was abducted and later found murdered.
His body was dumped outside his grandmother’s house on a dingy path and was covered in a dirty gunny bag, with his photo placed on it.
“These are the kind of issues we are prioritising in the fight against crime. We can not sit back and watch as criminal gangs terrorise innocent people. I am going to bring that to an end,” Mr Iteere said in his maiden speech at the CID training school.
“They have been abducting people and threatening to kill them if money is not given to them, now they have made it real and killed a young and innocent boy. We will have to get them and ensure this trend is stopped because they have been operating with impunity,” he added.
Official statistics at Police headquarters show that up to four people are abducted every week, mainly in Nairobi and parts of Central Kenya.
Police said they are committed to eliminate the vice and even revealed they had arrested and prosecuted over 50 suspects in connection with the crime that has now become common in most parts of the country.
Mr Iteere said he will fight the organised gangs by strengthening the police internal intelligence units to be able to collect data on the activities of the criminal gangs to ensure their activities are detected long before they are accomplished.
“They have been operating with impunity, we can not let them go on that way. This is one of the areas we are determined to concentrate on,” he said.
And he said he would also bring to an end the other criminal activities by similar gangs which have been extorting from the public, raking millions of shillings in illegal taxes.
These include the amount of money they collect from households in informal areas, business premises, bus terminus and rural areas, particularly in Central Kenya.
Threats by the criminal gangs have made households pay illegal taxes ranging from as low as Ksh 50 to Ksh 1000 depending on the location and type of house.
“It is not a secret, we have been remitting taxes to Mungiki every other time, some pay weekly while others remit money monthly. Even the Police and the Provincial Administration are well aware of this because it is done in broad daylight,” a resident of Mathare slum said.
Mathare is one of the notorious informal settlements where Mungiki have established strong networks of levying illegal taxes.
In Mr Iteere’s own words, “the Mungiki are running a parallel government.”
“I will not allow this to go on, my officers are under firm instructions to dismantle all these networks,” he said and added that is aware of the taxes levied by the Mungiki on each truck load of sand or other construction materials, mainly in the Eastlands part of Nairobi.
Mr Iteere has also vowed to ruthlessly fight the extortion rings in the matatu industry where members of the outlawed sect have made it a routine of collecting illegal taxes per trip.
They have previously beheaded crew members who have failed to remit money to them or those who notify the police about their operations.