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Kakamega residents raise fears over marauding street boys

The street boys scavenge through the garbage as they spy on their possible targets. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The unkempt, glue-sniffing boys roam the streets, scavenge in garbage bins or lie idle on shop verandahs.

The courageous ones stand at strategic places next to busy shops, bus stops, and supermarkets to beg for money from shoppers and travellers.

Mostly, those who beg for money are of a relatively younger age, between 10 and 15 years.

This is what ushers you to Kakamega town.

The number of street boys, who walk in gangs has increased and they are linked to the upsurge in crime.

Residents claim the mostly target university students, night guards, small-scale traders, bodaboda riders, and jua kali mechanics.

 Hudson Mulemi, a 58-year-old night guard at a church in Kakamega town was attacked by a gang last month as he left work. 

When he did not return home, the next morning, his family became worried.

His wife, Joyce Khabuku received a call informing him that her husband was admitted to Kakamega Referral hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

He was in bad shape and two days later, unfortunately, he died. 

 “I visited my husband in hospital but he died from excessive bleeding,” said Khabuku, adding that her husband had often complained of the street boys harassing them.

 A trader, only identified as Mwaura said the street boys have become a nuisance and residents have taken matters into their hands. 

 “These boys have become a nuisance. They are so daring, they attack people in broad daylight. Just the other day, four of them attacked a man next to the Kenya Power offices in town. Unfortunately, an angry mob attacked them and beat one of them to death. The rest escaped, “Mwaura said.

 Mwaura added that the most dangerous spots are the backstreets in town, Murram, Shikhambi, Joyland, Masingo and Maraba estates due to the high population and the existence of informal settlements.

 Ernest Echesa, a guard at a joint that sells firewood, narrated how the boys attacked him, leaving him with deep cuts on his forehead.

“The attackers were young men. One of them slashed me on the head with a machete, leaving me with a deep cut. My colleagues raised an alarm and the boys took off.  I am lucky to be alive,” he said. 

 Reuben Otiende, a Nyumba Kumi coordinator at Shikhambi estate, said the county government should beef up security in the area.  

 “Our school-going children are in danger because some of them have been attacked by criminal gangs. We are worried that the situation is getting out of hand,” he said.

 Otiende added that the insecurity in the area has resulted in traders closing their businesses as early as 6 pm. 

 Kakamega County Police Commander Joseph Kigen said that he is aware of the upsurge in crime.

“The situation is bad. One boy was attacked and killed by an angry mob. In another incident, two boys were attacked and are admitted at Kakamega referral hospital,” he said.   

Kigen urged locals to report any suspicious individuals to the police station to help with investigations. 

“We are here to protect residents and they ought to report the matter to us. They should not take matters into their hands. We will deal with the gang,” Kigen said.

 Lurambi Constituency Chairman of Kakamega Preachers, Bishop John Odinga, and Kakamega County Interfaith Chairman Bishop Nicholas Olumasai, urged police to beef up security.