Juvenile gangs jolt police in Mombasa to action

Mombasa Old Town security

Police officers on February 28, 2022 patrol Ndia Kuu area in Mombasa Old Town where a group of youth attacked and injured a tourist.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The resurgence of criminal gangs in Mombasa ahead of the August 9 General Election is raising concern among leaders and security agencies.

Every election cycle, politicians are accused of funding juvenile gangs to cause mayhem in the port city.

Some of the areas that have borne the brunt of violence are Old Town, Kisauni and Likoni where thugs have stabbed or hacked residents and stolen valuables from them.

In the most recent case, a group of about 20 young men was captured on CCTV camera stealing from Old Town residents. 

On Wednesday, Mombasa County Commissioner John Otieno asked parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts in order to help tame crime in the port city. 

“It is sad that some of the criminals are juveniles below 15 years old. I ask leaders and parents to join hands with security agencies to ensure there’s peace and tranquility in Mombasa, especially during this political season even as authorities take action,” he said. 

Former Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba said insecurity was getting worse. 

“The young boys walk around like a herd of cattle. The sad thing is that these are our children, coming from our own homes, they are our brothers, neighbours and siblings,” he said. 

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko urged men to stop neglecting their parental responsibilities. 

“Spare the rod, spoil the child. Take that cane and punish that wayward son,” said Ms Mboko. 

Her Jomvu counterpart Badi Twalib warned the young people against engaging in criminal acts.  

Governor Hassan Joho, who is serving his second and last term, warned voters against divisive politics and tribalism. 
"We want peace and unity, which brings development. We don't want any skirmishes, we won't allow discord or insecurity to creep into Mombasa," he said. 

The governor said that while flying back to Kenya from Mecca, he met someone from Hungary who told him that due to insecurity, he did not want to spend time in Mombasa. 

"The person opted for Diani due to insecurity. He told me he was scared Mombasa might not be safe. The insecurity challenge is detrimental even to our economy," warned the governor. 

Mr Joho warned the machete-wielding youth that they risk being shot dead by police officers. 

"It will be unfortunate when a 16-year-old boy is found to have stabbed someone with a knife and is gunned down because police are allowed to shoot armed criminals,” he said. 

“We will be losing our young generation, which we must not. Let us be peace ambassadors. Parents and leaders must take their responsibilities [seriously]."

Commission for Human Rights and Justice executive director Julius Ogogoh and Muslim for Human Rights Commission (Muhuri) official

Topista Juma said the attacks have a political dimension.

“Why do these cases spike during elections? We know politicians are fuelling such practices and they need to be probed,” Mr Ogogoh said.

Meanwhile, Nyali police boss Daniel Mumasaba said a man arrested while naked in a shop at after breaking in will be arraigned in court today.

“Although he did not steal anything, it is a crime to break into people’s property and cause malicious damage. The owner of the shop has already written a statement. The suspect was found inside the shop sleeping, naked,” Mr Mumasaba said.

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