12 Kenyan fishermen held in Uganda charged in court

Friday November 10 2017

Lake Victoria

A fisherman rows a handmade raft in Lake Victoria on November 9, 2017. 12 Kenyan fishermen who were still being held by Uganda security officials have been fined Sh20,000 each by a Kampala court. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BARACK ODUOR
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Twelve Kenyan fishermen who were still being held by Uganda security officials have been fined Sh20,000 each by a Kampala court.

The fishermen, who hail from Ringiti and Remba Islands in Suba North Sub-County, were arrested by Ugandan security agents last Monday and Sunday.

The twelve were among 17 fishermen who were arrested before being taken to Riabana and Kalangala islands in Uganda where they were detained.

But five of them were released on Wednesday after parting with Sh11,000 each.

The 12 were released Friday after they were arraigned in a Kampala court where they were fined Sh20,000 each.

However, the charges remained anonymous.

RELEASED

According to Suba North OCPD Wilson Nanga, the available information was that the fishermen had been released.

"I am informed that all of them have been released at the said fine by a court sitting in Kampala. The court has also ordered them to collect their boats and return to Kenya," said Mr Nanga.

He said he was not aware of the reasons why the fishermen were arrested adding that they fishing in Ugandan waters at the time of the arrest.

Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria raised complaints over persistent frustrations they undergo in the hands of Ugandan security personnel.

MIGINGO

The worst affected are those who operate in Kenyan islands of Migingo in Migori County, Kiwa, Ringiti, Takawiri and Remba in Homa Bay County.

According to Boni Sidika, a former treasurer of Kinda Beach fishermen in Suba Sub-County, Ugandan security personnel have a tendency of confiscating the fish they catch in the lake.

He said that the Ugandan officers have a habit of trespassing into Kenyan waters and frustrating them.

"There are several occasions when we fish in Kenyan waters but Ugandan police emerge from nowhere and arrest us," said Mr Sidika.

"The Ugandan security personnel deprive us of fish. Failure to co-operate leads to such arrests," he added.

MARINE POLICE

Homa Bay County Beach Management Network Chairman Edward Oremo called on Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet to send marine police officers to Lake Victoria to protect them from frustrations they undergo in hands of the Ugandan police.

"Ugandan police persistently harass fishermen in this lake. I call on Mr Boinnet to assign marine police in this lake to protect us from the frustrations," said Mr Oremo.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo accused the national government of neglecting the security concerns of fishermen in Lake Victoria because the region supports the opposition.

"The State has failed to provide our fishermen with security because the region lies in [an] opposition stronghold," claimed Ms Odhiambo.