Murang'a leads in child offenders with majority booked for stealing

Theft and loitering are the most common offences by minors in all the counties. [iStockphoto]

Children's major offence is stealing, according to a report released by the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) on Tuesday.

Save for two counties - Baringo and Bomet - the other 45 counties had incidents of theft by a minor. There are counties that had minors booked for robbery with violence.

The report launched by Chief Justice Martha Koome covers the 2022-2023 financial year. Another prevalent offence among children across all 47 counties was loitering.

Loitering is an archaic offence borrowed from Kenya's colonial master Britain. The offence is contained in Section 182 of the Penal Code Cap. 63, which criminalises idle and disorderly persons.

It is among minor offences that allow police to arrest anyone they think is idle or simply moving around without intent. The number of reported offences committed by children in the last financial year was 1,990.

Among counties with the highest number of offences were Murang'a, Nakuru, Nyamira, Kericho and Mombasa.

In Murang'a there were 276 children offenders. Theft was the highest recorded crime involving minors, with 78 cases. A further 40 children were booked for possession of narcotics and 34 were in conflict with the law for housebreaking.

The numbers in Murang'a paint a grave situation with high numbers of minors engaging in capital offences. From the report, 28 children were recorded to have defiled others, while eight attempted sodomy or rape and one committed sodomy.

At the same time, another minor was nabbed for prostitution. Prostitution is another colonial law adopted to police morals. However, section 153 of the penal code is among the laws the Judiciary has proposed to Parliament to expunge from Kenya's law books.

At least 12 children were said to have been involved in robbery with violence. In Nakuru, there were 236 children said to be against the law.

From the data, 80 were said to have engaged in theft, while 13 were caught in possession of narcotics.

Those booked for serious offences such as murder were eight, manslaughter one, attempted suicide one, eight in robbery with violence, and three in robbery.

Curiously, there is one child in Nakuru booked for child trafficking.

In the meantime, four were brought to book for unnatural acts, nine were in for defilement while 10 entered into Kenya's black books for attempted defilement or rape. Further there were two minors who were recorded for gang rape.

Again loitering had two minors and trespass, four and causing grievous bodily harm, nine children.

In Nyamira, there were 196 recorded offenders who were minors. Again, theft contributed to the bulk of the cases recorded in the last financial year. In the NCAJ report, there were 61 children in Nyamira said to have been involved in theft.

The other prevalent crime by children in that county was housebreaking and burglary, with 41 being booked for the same.

Defilement cases among children also recorded double digits, and featured as the third most committed crime. There were 26 minors who were in the government's bad books for the serious crime.

There was one minor in the county booked for procuring an abortion while four were said to have killed someone.

Another minor was brought to book for poaching and three were in for handling food.

The other county with most truant minors was Kericho. Loitering was the most prevalent crime committed by minors in the county with 53 being government visitors for the same. Loitering was followed by theft (33), burglary (22) and defilement (13).

Another minor in Kericho was arrested for begging while one was in for impregnating another. Further, data indicates that two were booked for procuring an abortion.

Meanwhile, in Mombasa, there were 138 child offenders. Theft and defilement had the highest number of minors being booked.

There were 37 minors in Mombasa said to have stolen while those in for defilement were 30. Further, there were two minors said to have been involved in kidnapping and habouring an escapee.

Housebreaking or burglary and assault had equal number of children (11) while 16 were in for robbery with violence.

To deal with the delinquents, the government opted to apply diversion, supervision, and professional counselling. Of the numbers, the police diverted six per cent of the minors, while nine were handled by professional counsellors.

In addition, 13 per cent were committed to government institutions and 24 per cent were supervised without court orders. Meanwhile, 35 per cent were committed to supervision by courts.