NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 28 – In 2007, Joseph Nthenge, then of the dreaded General Service Unit, found himself between a rock and a hard place during Kenya’s dark days of the Post Election Violence that led to the killing of over 1,000 people while more than half a million others were internally displaced.
He was caught on camera convincing rowdy youths why they should preserve peace in the country, a move that was lauded locally and internationally by among others the United Nations.
It was away from the norm, where cops would be seen engaging demonstrators in running battles, firing in the air, clobbering and in some incidents, people lost their lives.
“Why should we destroy property? Kenya has been built for far too long. Please let us not destroy it in one day,” he was heard reasoning with charged youths.
And now about 40 days to elections, Nthenge, who is the Kirinyaga County Police boss is appealing to Kenyans to make their political decisions without risking the peace they are currently enjoy.
“During this period, Kenyans must decide to stay away from anything that may breach the peace. People should politic, vote for the person they love and more so the leader who will help them in future, and the one who will not bring chaos in the country,” he said during an interview with Capital FM News.
Nthenge urged Kenyans to shun leaders propagating violence, saying peace is priceless and when infringed, the effects are devastating.
“My appeal to Kenyans, please decide who will be your leaders in a peaceful manner. This is our country and we don’t have any other place to go,” he asserted.
His note to Kenyans was, “the political leaders can fly out of the country but can you? This remains our only home.”
He asked, “Where else can we go?”
Under his tenure as the Kirinyaga County police boss, crime has dropped by 300 per cent.
Just like he reasoned with the youths in 2007 who were ready to kill and destroy property, he has adopted a similar strategy, now through effective community policing.
He is also an administrator of the county WhatsApp group, which draws its membership from the heads of Nyumba Kumi initiative, chiefs and all security heads.
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho is also a member of the group, which he says has revolutionised the war against crime and illegal brews.
“Without members of the public, you cannot do anything and that is one of the major achievements through the Nyumba Kumi Initiative,” Nthenge said.
Detectives, he says, are now receiving intelligence on a timely basis from “the people, and freely so.”
And through community policing, he says, petty crimes are resolved at that level including domestic issues and only the complicated cases are reported to police stations.
On the illicit alcoholic brews, culprits have exhausted their ‘tricks’ under the Nyumba Kumi Initiative, “since the people know they can do something to stop it.”
“One just needs to send a text message to the head of his cluster, who will forward it to the area chief. That way, the information will reach us through our WhatsApp group,” he said.
“Tuko mbele ya wakora siku hizi (We are ahead of criminals nowadays).”