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Crack down on killer gangs to restore order



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The slaughter of nearly 30 innocent Kenyans in attacks by criminal gangs in the past month is a mockery of a nation that professes a strong belief in law and order. The horrifying incidents in Kakamega and Marsabit counties have exposed the woeful shortcomings of the local security personnel.

A common characteristic in the bloodletting is the revelation that the gangs are well known. In Kakamega’s Matungu Constituency, the perpetrators are suspected members of two notorious gangs — 42 Brothers and 11 Brothers — which have for years terrorised locals with abandon. Why no serious steps have been taken to wipe out these criminal outfits that prey on people who work so hard to earn a livelihood in the villages is inexplicable.

The Marsabit killings are linked to feuds over resources, cross-border skirmishes and an endemic fight for political supremacy between rival communities.

In both cases, however, it really does not matter who is involved and for what reason. After all, it is the government’s cardinal duty and responsibility to protect the people’s lives and property. It is a mandate the people have entrusted to their leaders and which is the only justification for having the positions that they hold.

The failure to stop the killings and seize and punish the perpetrators poses a grave threat to law and order. Driven up the wall, and in their desperation, the people do not need any more prompting to take the law into their own hands. This is already happening in some places with the increasing lynching of criminal suspects. But more importantly, a government that cannot protect its own people cannot justify its existence.

Despite the recent transfers of some security officers in Matungu in a bid to invigorate the operations against the gangs, the bloodletting persists. The latest victims, including schoolchildren and a pregnant woman, were hacked to death but nothing was stolen during those raids, meaning that the motive was not theft. Having bands of armed criminals roaming the countryside and killing people in their homes is an unforgivable security breach.

The local leaders’ frustration over the mounting insecurity is evident in their accusation that Interior Cabinet Minister Fred Matiang’i is not doing much to end the killings. They claim that, while the CS has in the recent past always been quick to visit other trouble spots and lay down the law, he is yet to set foot in Kakamega despite the dastardly killings.

There is a need for a comprehensive and decisive intervention by the security organs to put an end to the mayhem so that the people can go about their work without fear of getting harmed.

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