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Weed out few officers who are hell-bent on sabotaging Covid war

By Editorial | November 12th 2020

In their zeal to enforce Covid-19 containment measures, most police officers have done a good job so far.

Despite the usual logistical challenges and in some cases an unresponsive public, the officers’ undying enthusiasm and renewed vigilance stand out.

However, there have been cases of a few rotten apples that have slackened off. A recent video showing police officers beating up revellers found in bars past 9 pm rightfully elicited outrage among Kenyans.

There are several other cases documented by the Independent Police Oversight Authority. Since March when the first curfew was declared, some rogue officers have routinely used the guise of enforcing Covid-19 rules to harass and harm suspects.

In Nairobi last week, there were claims of police brutality in various clubs where patrons were enjoying themselves past curfew time. In Nakuru, revellers caught in bars past the 9 pm deadline engaged the police in street fights.

To the extent that police officers have been carrying out orders, it is wrong for revellers or anyone found on the wrong side of the law to turn on the officers. It is equally wrong for rogue bar owners to shove the law.

As has been witnessed in towns across the country, there are bar owners who bribe rogues officers to work well past curfew hours. There are others who lock patrons inside bars and allow to party late into the night.

Crooked bar operators involved in such monkey business should not only have their licences withdrawn but also be prosecuted. Rogue business people should not be allowed to defy the law and walk away scot-free.

However, we take this chance to remind security officials that enforcement of the law must be tempered with logic and reason. Lawbreakers should be arrested and charged before a court of law.

Above all, everyone has a role in fighting Covid-19. Let there be sustained cooperation between the public and the law enforcement agencies. The adversarial relationship between the two, as has been the case for years, will result in more harm than good if not addressed.

In the current circumstances, everyone has a role in ensuring Kenya survives this pandemic. More focus should be on obeying health protocols. Winning the war against coronavirus is no longer a matter of the law per se. Personal responsibility is key.

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