Bank robberies, murders and general crime escalates

Kenya election years are characterized by increase in tribal clashes, violence and crime. 2007 will be no exception although political violence is generally expected to be low.

Currently, there has been notable increase in the number of bank robberies with over Kshs 300M having been stolen from banks and security firms in the last six months starting July 2006. The recent robbery was from Wells Fargo security firm headquarters in South C where Shs. 9.5M was stolen without firing a shot. Habib bank in Mombasa is a recent case in point. A number of police officers have been killed in the process with the under-equipped and understaffed 40,000 police force retaliating by killing 46 suspects in the month of January alone.

The spate of murders have been notorious in the Kiambu area where two American ladies were killed over the weekend. The areas around Kikuyu town of Kinoo, Uthiru, Gitaru, Muthure and Wangige are prime carjacking and murder prone areas as are areas along Limuru road all the way to Banana. Police claims that they have killed a prime criminal in those areas proved false when the said thug called relatives and told them not to celebrate yet. Last year, villagers torched the house of the thug and those of his former relatives after his killing sprees in the area.

It is said that the said thugs dominate Wangige town and have vowed to eliminate all the tycoons in the area. The pattern is the same, where they give rich men notice of a month or two months to enjoy their wealth and then they come and shoot them. In one case after the lapse of the enjoyment grace period, the well known thugs met their victim in a local pub and shot him and his friends dead. Their female companies were shot in their legs. Nothing was stolen from them. In another one, a woman was shot in the arm after the husband's period lapsed. The man of the house was not at home.

Recently, the decomposing body of a man whose relatives had been searching for him for a week, was found in a water-filled quarry near Kikuyu township. His body had been chopped and put in a sack with a rock tied to him so that his body will not float. He was discovered after a woman was arrested at her Muthure home on suspicion of being a gang leader of the notorious criminals. She was later said to have been a friend of the man who was carjacked as he went to attend a burial committee of a friend. He had Sh. 200,000 with him for the funeral. He was lured to the home of the woman who was said to have the habit of befriending crime targets. The man's car was discovered in a garage in a Kawangware garage as it was being repainted.

Tension is high at the Mt Elgon area where ethnic clashes have persisted for several months now. Despite the gang arrogantly displaying their arsenal and shouting out their mission to destabilize the area, the security arm have not done anything to quell the violence. But they were vigilant when presidential aspirant and anglican bishop Stephen Kewasis went to distribute relief food to the displaced residents, obviously a guise for Ruto to gain more political mileage.The security forces should be as vigilant when ending the violence.

Police commissioner, General Hussein Ali term expires in March. It is unfortunate that despite being poached from the deadly and disciplined forces, there is not much to show for his term in office other than the constant pronouncements that crime levels have gone down. Kenyans expected more from him. Knowing Kibaki's modus operandi, he is very likely to have his term renewed.

More unfortunate is Internal Security Minister, John Michuki mobilization of the provincial administration to toe government line, do its bidding and arrest opposition politicians who are inciting the public. He expects them to be loyal to their employer and pay back the hefty salaries paid to them by campaigning for the government. To him, government politicians are clean and need no monitoring. He is ready to use state machinery and resources to campaign for the incumbent and muzzle the opposition campaign. Critically, the minister
 is not keen to channel the energies of the country's security organs to protect the residents of the wider Kiambu and Nairobi area, Mt Elgon and the rest of the country.

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