Police swoop triggers demand for fake IDs

PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI Security operations in Garissa, April 25th, 2013. The demand for fake IDs in Garissa has shot up following the ongoing police operation.

As the security operation to rid Garissa town of armed gangs got underway, an illegal business sprouted as others ground to a halt.

Traders involved in desktop publishing suddenly started receiving requests to design and print fake student identity cards.

The requests were mostly made by youths and were ready to pay handsomely because showing a student ID to policeman during the swoop would guarantee freedom.

“I offer many services including processing passport-size photographs and printing. My services range between Sh50 and Sh300 at most.

“But since the operation started, young men have been coming here asking if I could process a fake student IDs and they are willing to pay up to Sh1,000. I’ve heard the same stories from my colleagues too,” said Ms Agnes Syombua a trader in Garissa town.

But while the police operation was designed to arrest armed gangsters who have terrorised residents in the town, police have not announced any breakthrough.

Most suspects have been young men who have been charged for failing to register despite attaining adult age. Such a charge attracts a fine of a meagre Sh1,000.

By last week, only about 100 people were charged in court even though close to 500 people were arrested in the swoop.

Many of those arrested were set free after interrogation by police.

Other suspects were charged with being in Kenya illegally and refugees found in the town were accused of being outside designated areas.

On the second day of the police operation, seven county representatives were among those arrested but later freed.

Sankuri ward representative Abdi Suleiman said he was arrested on Monday evening, held for an hour at the Garissa police station. Others arrested included representatives for Balambala, Danyere, Lawasigale, Saka and Iftin.

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