From murder, and robbery to attacks from machete-welding gangs, Kisii town is slowly creeping back to crime.
Youths seem to have taken over the town, terrorising residents in nearly all the estates at night.
Community policing members have not been spared either. Last Friday, at least four of the members were attacked around the Daraja Mbili area by machete-welding street gangs.
They were treated at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH) with deep panga cuts.
The same day in Nyanchwa area near Kitutu Central Police Station, a businessman who was heading home after closing his M-Pesa shop was attacked by two people armed with a pistol. According to a police report, the businessman was attacked as he was entering his compound.
He run back to the road as they chased after him up to a nearby shop where he sought safety.
Locals responded, forcing the attackers to open fire with a bullet injuring a 28-year-old man. The victim is being treated at the KTRH
A police officer privy to the case said they have retrieved CCTV footage from a nearby shop that will help them identify the attackers.
Two weeks ago, a journalist and a medical officer attached to KTRH were attacked in two separate incidents. They both lost their phones, money and other valuables.
On Wednesday last week, a county employee was discharged from the hospital after admission at KTRH.
He was treated for deep panga for cuts that he sustained from his attackers along the Nyanchwa-National Housing road. Locals headed home as early as 10 pm are attacked by machete-wielding gangs.
The gangs, walking in a group of two to five have been terrorising locals in the town in the last five months. They steal money and any other valuables.
Charles Kenganda, a member of the County Assembly and who stays in Nyanchwa says the number of young men roaming the area at night is alarming.
“People are now forced to go home latest 8 pm. This seems like an organised crime that will soon kill the economy of this town. Security apparatus must come out to tame this kind of attacks and robberies.”
In the recent past, several street children have also relocated to the town’s CBD after their habitat; the town’s dumping site was destroyed.
A few months ago, the Kisii County government began the process to reclaim the area. More than 150 street children who have been camping in the area for more than a decade have since moved to the town posing a security risk to the residents.
Peterson Ondimu, a manager at one of the restaurants in town says the street urchins have been attacking female revellers. “They break into private cars and steal music systems as well other properties. It is becoming impossible to walk with a female in town, they will attack you and demand some money.”
Kisii County Commander Charles Kasses said they are dealing with the criminals and some of the politicians funding some of the criminal activities. “We are handling these cases one by one. Some murders are related to family conflicts and others are assault cases. We have deployed a 24-hour security patrol system to weed out all the muggings. This will be a thing of the past.”
Political hooliganism and attacks among rival groups have also increased.
Police say two opposing groups have been getting sponsorship from certain politicians to attack each other with machetes.
More than 20 boda boda riders have so far been treated at various hospitals with serious injuries.
On Monday, police were forced to fire in the air to disperse more than 200 riders and other youths who had stormed into one of the officers at Nyanchwa and which is being operated by one of the rival boda boda groups.
This resulted in the injury of five riders who are being treated at various hospitals in the town.
Between 2002 and 2007, crime rates in Kisii had gotten to a fever pitch, and mothers and their daughters were raped in the full glare of their husbands and fathers. Men were not spared. They were shot and killed for refusing to surrender valuables. It was survival of the fittest.
The police failed to contain the violence, and amid the crisis, a group that has grown to become feared and respected almost in equal measure by residents of this hilly countryside was born. Its first order of business was to restore calm in the region.
This was 2002, the year the Sungu Sungu gang came into existence. A decade and a half later, the organisation seems to have lost touch, with crime slowly creeping back to the largely populated and economic capital in the large Nyanza region.
Suspected criminals were targeted for crimes allegedly committed in Kisii. Some were hunted down kilometres away in places as far off as Eldoret.
The group’s operation in the area saw criminals flee. Those lucky to escape the dragnet have never returned home. But the purge left behind tales of loss, heartache and terror.