Return of criminal gangs in Nakuru causes jitters

Nakuru County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara with Nakuru county Police commander Zacharia Kimani and other security officers inspecting some of the crude weapons at Kaptembwo Police Station in Nakuru West on June 7,2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Residents of Nakuru Town West have raised concerns over the return of organised criminal gangs that terrorise residents.

Rhonda, Kaptembwo, and Pondamali are some of the areas largely affected by the surge in criminal attacks at night and in broad daylight.

Elders from the estates led by their chairperson Peter Kinyanjui held a meeting yesterday during which they called for a security operation to flush out the gangs.

“People are being robbed during the day with the gangs not caring if anyone else is watching. People going home from work in the evening are finding it rough,” said Kinyanjui.

The residents lamented that the incidents have become rampant without any tangible action against the suspects, citing lenient bonds, bail, and fines in court.

“We want the State to act on these gangs once and for all. As it is now, it appears they have been given the leeway to do whatever they wish without fear,” said Kinyanjui.

He added that most incidents have not been reported as the gangs instil fear in their victims. “If the gang members are arrested or beaten up by a mob, they identify a few people and execute a revenge plan. This has caused many people to continue suffering in silence,” he said.

They called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki to institute changes among junior officers in the area. “We are aware of security patrols planned by our police. However, we have some among them who give the gangs information on where the patrols are being done for them to dodge the police dragnets,” said Kinyanjui.

Conduct patrols

Bilha Ngonyo, a trader, said that there was a need for the deployment of additional officers to conduct patrols at all times, noting that the gangs are unpredictable.

“Regardless of the time of day, the gangs approach you armed with knives, and one has to choose either handing over their phones and cash or get stabbed,” said Ngonyo.

James Mahia, a trader, said incidents of break-ins into businesses and robberies while open had become common in the area. “These gangs have become so bold that they come into your shop and take whatever they want as you watch. They even dare you to call the police, saying nothing will be done to them,” said Mahia.

Daniel Kahiga, a resident, narrated that the insecurity is largely planned with the gangs vandalising streetlights to provide an environment for them to thrive.

“The county government installed high mast lights for the estates, but they never lasted. They are either stolen or vandalised within a short time,” said Kahiga.

Janet Chelagat, a resident, said insecurity has affected their daily lives, especially women who are seen as easy targets by young criminals.

“There have been incidents of rape and defilement of our girls and women going to school and the markets. We are calling for government protection,” said Chelagat.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama urged the residents to exercise caution, especially after sunset, saying that the matter requires collective responsibility. “Parents, who are also part of the same society that is complaining, protect some criminals,” said Arama.

Nakuru Town West Sub County Police Commander Francis Wahome said the police were conducting an operation to rein on the gangs.

“We are also calling on members of the public to come forward and report these incidents. If there is any that will require witness protection, we shall provide,” said Mr Wahome.