Operation launched to flush out criminal gangs, illicit brew dealers in Kericho

Cabinet Secretaries Betty Maina, Fred Matiang'i and Charles Keter at Kericho Training Teachers College on January 11, 2020.

Front, from left: Cabinet Secretaries Betty Maina, Fred Matiang'i and Charles Keter at Kericho Training Teachers College on January 11, 2020.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

A security operation to flush out criminal gangs, illicit brew dealers and gambling shop operators in Kericho County will kick off on Tuesday.

Both senior and junior security officers who have overstayed in the county will be transferred as they are allegedly an impediment to implementation of various operations in the region.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i regretted that criminal activities have been rampant in the region, with security officers condoning the vice to the detriment of the people they should be protecting.

“By the time the clergy have held a meeting as a region and come to me to plead the case on insecurity and illicit brew consumption and gambling, that is when you know it has become a real menace to the people,” said Dr Matiang’i.

The CS said the same issues had repeatedly cropped up during a meeting with administrators, security officers and Governor Paul Chepkwony, prompting the action to be taken.

Gambling machines

Foreigners are said to have sneaked in gambling machines despite a government ban, with the most affected zones being Kericho town and Kapkatet trading centre.

Youths are known to patronise the lottery shops with some having been forced to engage in criminal activities to raise money to gamble.

Police officers and a section of administrators have been accused of collecting protection money from the dealers, enabling the vice to thrive.

Illicit brews and consumption of third generation spirits have been blamed for high cases of murder, rape, incest and defilement in the region.

Chang’aa sneaked from the neighbouring counties of Nyamira and Kisii is being sold in Bomet and Kericho counties in what has caused uproar among leaders and the clergy.

“We will deal decisively with those involved in criminal activities and other vices in the society as we have mapped out the areas that are most affected. You will start seeing action immediately in that direction,” said Dr Matiang’i.

He was speaking after holding a closed-door meeting with chiefs, their assistants, assistant county commissioners, deputy county commissioners, and Rift Valley County Commissioner George Natembeya at the Kericho Teachers Training College.

Matter of great concern

Dr Matiang’i, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Charles Keter (Energy), Betty Maina (Industrialisation) and Principal Secretary Alfred Cheruiyot, said insecurity in the region is a matter of great concern to the residents and their leaders.

In the last two years, there have been baffling cases of murder in the county, which prompted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to send a team of detectives to the region to combat the crime.

One of the high-profile murders in the region was that of former Rai Cement General Manager Chetan Vyas who was killed by three suspects who scaled the walls of the factory and accessed his house by breaking in through the roof.

The suspects are said to have disabled CCTV cameras at the factory in Soin Sigowet Sub-County on the border of Kericho and Kisumu counties before accessing the compound.

Some of the CCTV cameras that had not been disabled captured the suspects as they broke into the house, entered the bedroom and strangled the 50-year-old man after tying his legs and hands.

The suspects, who wore hoods, carted away six gunny bags with unknown contents. A total of 11 suspects were arrested with some being charged in court while others were set free or became prosecution witnesses.

Covid-19 protocols

Dr Matiang’i, who toured Kimugu Primary School to inspect implementation of Covid-19 protocols and resumption of learning, said chiefs and their assistants had been directed to work with elders and education officers to ensure all eligible children are in school.

“The enrolment rate in Kericho county stands at 90 per cent with 91 pregnant girls having resumed learning,” said Dr Matiang’i after holding a meeting with Governor Chepkwony.

Prof Chepkwony said the county and the national governments are working closely to implement development projects for the benefit of taxpayers.

“We have discussed a wide array of development issues and programmes being rolled out by both governments and we are keen on ensuring they are completed in time,” said Prof Chepkwony.

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