Kenyans are all too aware of the ability of organised criminal gangs and fraudsters who manipulate our finances and oil the pockets of the corrupt.
As President Uhuru’s anti-graft campaign continues, it is imperative that we citizens also pay attention to the ways in which we can protect ourselves financially, and call out those who take advantage of the system.
Hitherto, we have regulatory government agencies working day and night to make Kenya as fair a place as can be.
The 18th century Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume, known for exploring human nature, argued that we are guided by our emotions and passion, rather than reason.
As an essayist during the European enlightenment period, Hume was concerned with the human experience, and how that shapes knowledge and subsequently, behaviour.
One of his most famous ideas is encapsulated in the quote: “Everyone has observed how much more dogs are animated when they hunt in a pack, than when they pursue their game apart. We might, perhaps, be at a loss to explain this phenomenon, if we had not experience of a similar in ourselves”.
In other words, people who commit a crime in an organised way are more likely to boldly break the law. If they are doing it alone, they might not feel so empowered to carry out their schemes.
That is why the government has begun to crack down on these syndicates - notably in the matatu business, against drug smugglers, and other groups.
Power does not lie only in the hands of a few strong individuals - they are surrounded by cronies that keep their whole empire thriving.
In the central Rift Valley, matatu owners recently petitioned Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and police chief Hillary Mutyambai to investigate the gangs that have taken control of bus terminals and the management of matatus.
The gangs have taken control of the whole transportation network. In the petition, the matatu owners said they lost more than Sh50 million monthly to the gangs.
It is not even the petty gang members that benefit - it is the few on top that use young men to intimidate regular workers and create their own system of rule. And it has to stop.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) announced a crackdown on gangsters at bus stations causing them to retreat.
In Embu, the gangs have infiltrated evangelical churches to cheat members out of millions of shillings.
Under the auspices of a made-up group, the criminals get ordinary Kenyans to pay membership fees by promising them jobs and inexpensive loans.
Operating as a Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO), they tell believers that the Central Bank of Kenya funds their loans.
In 2016, an organisation operating in a similar manner was shut down after its scheme was discovered. The new group alleges that fees will go towards helping dues-paying members financially - but these claims seem dubious at best.
Recent crackdowns on drug smuggling gangs in Mombasa reflect the same pattern. Gone are the days when emboldened crime leaders there were freely able to prey on victims.
Kenya is in an era of unprecedented prosperity. But there is much more work to do. As Hume recognised, humans are likely to group together to go on a mission. We cannot do much without the support of others. But we must all make the choice to look out for one another and use this human camaraderie to put an end to corruption and fraud - rather than joining together to enable it more.
Mr Mugolla comments on topical social political issues[email protected]
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