Eight arrested as police reign in on dreaded Marachi boys gang


Police in an operation hunting for members of Marachi boys gang which is an outlawed group. [Robert Amalemba, Standard]

An operation to rid Busia border town of the dreaded and outlawed Marachi Boys gang entered its fourth day today with police arresting eight believed to belong to the gang.

The eight, the police believe, are behind a wave of criminal activities in the past months across the border including perpetuating the unrest that was witnessed on Thursday and Friday that led to the death of two people.

The unrest which sparked as the gang demanded a fair share of kiosks constructed by the county government saw a number of police and Kenya Power officers injured as business was brought to a standstill at the Marachi slums.

The security team in the county said that they held a joint operation consisting of officers from Busia, DCI officers Busia and Kenya power officers under the Busia police command targeting about 1200 households and businesses with illegal power connection.

"Three transformers were removed for security reasons until the power supply in the area is streamlined. During the operation one Kenya power motor vehicle KDA 980P windscreen and driver's window were smashed," reads the report from the Budia DCI.

"The driver No 52813 CPL Andrew Wafula attached to Kenya power was injured on the right cheek."

During the operation the officers managed to arrest Linus Wambani, George Owino, Benjamin Ouma and Benson Okello who will be arraigned Monday with different charges ranging from causing chaos, resisting arrest, vandalism among others

The other four who were arrested include John Baraza, Silas Ochieng, Calistus Oduor and Robert Ekesa.

During the operation police also uprooted a plantation of suspected cannabis Sativa found in the area measuring about 40*50 feet and kept as an exhibit.

Busia County Police Commander Joe Lekuta said the operation will until the area which had been taken captive by the gang is set free

"I warn anyone who belongs to the group to surrender to police or the law will eventually catch up with them," he said.

The County Commissioner Mwachaungu Chaunga on the other part favors a diplomatic way of dealing with the gang.

He said that “Going forward we shall invite them for talks to get to the root of their concerns and share with them on why they must keep law and order.”

In august, Governor Otuoma petitioned President William Ruto to help him rid the town of the Marachi gang which was blackmailing the county to give their members jobs and business premises at the expense of other locals.

"Mr President, I propose you set up a police station in the heart of Marachi and take charge of their excesses because they also pose a security threat to the locals," he said.

The group's chairman William Onyango has since called out the governor for "betraying" them after they tirelessly campaigned for him in the last governorship poll Busia.

“We had a pre-election agreement with the governor and he has not only failed to honour it but is now employing the police to annihilate us,” he said.

Otuoma had tried to bring the group closer to him but his efforts hit a brick wall when their demands became too much.

Last year February the Governor accompanied by Principal Secretary State Department for MSMEs Susan Mangeni and Woman Rep Catherine Omanyo helped the Marachi Boys form a private security firm, buy a matatu and start a waste management plant.

Otuoma observed that the group that comprises the majority of youth often revert to crime after election years were a product of negative profiling and poverty and that they could turn around their image by engaging in formal money-making ventures.

“You had a negative reputation but all that the community said about you is history and its time now to redeem yourselves by running the businesses we have helped you start straightforwardly so that you can earn a decent living,” said Otuoma as he handed them a Sh3.2Million 14-seater matatu, commissioned their security and waste management firm.

“It’s a new beginning for Marachi Boys. We want the National government to know that you can change for the better. Let gone be the time when Marachi was a synonym for crime, hooliganism, robbery and narcotics.”

The matatu was bought by the governor, his deputy Arthur Odera, Ms Omanyo, Busia Speaker Fred Odilo and the Marachi MCA Tony Onyango.

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