, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22- Central Kenya has been the worst-hit region by the ongoing wave of kidnappings according to a new report by the National Crime Research Centre.
The report, however, points out that the menace is spread across all parts of the country with various categories of kidnapping identified.
Of the categories, “there is virtual kidnapping. Where someone collects full data on you and when they do that, they can call you and when he has that data, he can start threatening you.”
The centre’s Director Gerald Wandera says revenge is the main socio-cultural motive for kidnappings while ransom payment is a major financial reason while reducing political rivalry remains the main political motive.
– Ways used to kidnap victims –
Perpetrators use force to kidnap majority of their targets at 43.7pc, others were enticed at 26.8 pc while 3.9pc was through domestic workers.
However, 0.4pc self-kidnapped themselves, either to get sympathy or political mileage.
The majority of victims according to the report were kidnapped while going home, when on duty or business premises and when closing business.
“Majority (92.1pc) of the respondents indicated victims were mostly kidnapped when going home,” the report indicated.
READ: Partners, kin and rogue cops among likely kidnappers – report
Public ignorance on anti-kidnapping measures is reported as a factor encouraging the vice with the report calling for sensitisation and awareness programmes.
With intelligence gathering pointed out as a key measure to stop the menace, the government has been challenged to ensure informers and witnesses are protected under the Witness Protection Programme.
This, the reports points out, it can be enhanced through the Nyumba Kumi and Community Policing initiatives.
“One of the aims of the Nyumba Kumi and Community policing initiatives is to strengthen relations between the community and law enforcers and get them to work together in addressing crime in society,” Wandera said during the launch of the report on Wednesday.
With effective community policing, Wandera says the problem will be detected and dealt with swiftly.
“There is a challenge in that kidnappers contact the families of victims to pay a ransom and the families are willing to pay while the police are still investigating the cases. This has the potential to encourage the crime,” reads the report.
– Periods when kidnappings take place –
According to the report, 92 pc of the victims who were interviewed, they were kidnapped while going home while 25pc while on duty and 5pc while closing their businesses.
Parents and guardians are urged to “ensure that young children leaving schools for homes are picked and accompanied by trusted adults in the evening hours.”
“Business persons need to ensure that they use safe routes and means of transport when getting to work or going home in the evenings. They also need to conduct their business transactions in open or be vigilant of suspect activities or persons around them.”
For government officials in risky zones such as Northern Kenya, they are urged to take security precautions.
Lack of stiff penalties for kidnappers is cited as one of the challenges in preventing and combating the vice.
Currently, the maximum penalty for the crime is a seven-year prison sentence, which has been termed as not “severe enough to deter kidnappers from a repeat of the offence and would be kidnappers from committing the crime.”
A special unit under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations has since been established to deal with the menace.