Some 1,756 people were killed last year by violent and armed criminals, a new police report shows.
The report, which records an increase in serious crimes like murder and violent robbery, cites the rise of criminal gangs and availability of guns on the black market as the reasons.
It shows a seven per cent surge in incidents reported to police compared to 2010.
Police, however, note that a “significant” number of victims were not killed by gangsters but died at the hands of mobs and in incidents of domestic violence.
A total of 543 people were stoned, burnt or beaten to death by mobs and another 132 died of injuries from incidents of domestic abuse.
Some 75,733 crimes, including drug trafficking, traffic offences, burglaries, corruption, assault and carjackings, were recorded at police stations, says the annual crime statistics analysis report.
“Across the country, factors that mostly contributed to criminal behaviour include proliferation of small arms, organised criminal gangs, extreme poverty in sections of the population and unemployment among the youth,” reads the document.
A total of 203 guns and 15,213 bullets were recovered from criminals.
The report, however, says the higher figures do not necessarily translate to a higher crime prevalence and attributes this to police reforms “that have given citizens confidence to report crimes that would previously go unreported.”
It paints a picture of disillusioned Kenyans, unhappy with the way criminals are treated when arrested and charged in court, in a bid to explain rising cases of mob justice.
“For the first time mob justice and domestic violence were captured as independent categories of crime. This was prompted by a sharp increase in deaths and injuries where the public collectively take the law into their own hands,” according to the report.
“Rising cases of mob justice serve as a warning that there is a disconnect between our standards of justice envisaged by the Constitution and citizens’ perception on how criminals should be handled,” it adds.
Police station commanders, who form the link between the public and the force’s top hierarchy, reported that many Kenyans in rural areas did not understand the rights of criminals.
The report captures their findings: “Critical numbers in the population still believe in a punitive criminal justice system which readily takes criminals and suspects out of society. The presence of suspected offenders is viewed as repugnant and violently resisted by way of mob justice.”
The new Constitution is different from the old one in that suspects in court qualify for bail, irrespective of the purported offence.
While the old law had similar provisions, it barred suspects charged with capital offences like murder and robbery from enjoying freedom while their cases were pending.
Mob justice cases
The supreme law also leans towards handing out non-custodial sentences for offences deemed as misdemeanours.
The police, however, seek to check the rise in crime by reviewing operating procedures. “The challenge lies in revamping the systems that adversely affect effective and timely police response to satisfy rising expectations of the people,” the report adds.
Most reported crimes were in Rift Valley Province with 19,262 cases followed by Central with 10,016.
The least - 1,216 - were reported in North Eastern Province.
Nairobi recorded the highest number of mob justice cases at 133, followed by Nyanza with 108. Others were Western (95), Central (83), Eastern (48), Rift Valley (41) and Coast (35).
No such incident was reported in North Eastern Province.
In regard to domestic violence, 45 people were killed and 11 seriously injured in Nyanza Province, the highest figures recorded. High prevalence was also reported in Eastern where 37 people were killed and 15 suffered “grievous bodily harm.”
Twenty three people died and four were seriously injured in Rift Valley while nine deaths and two injuries were reported in Nairobi as a result of domestic violence.
Besides death and physical injuries, other incidents of domestic violence included rape, suicide and malicious damage to property.
Victims also reported death threats and properties being torched.
“In an increased number of cases (domestic violence), it has been noted that offenders hardly deny criminal liability. In several cases, offenders have proceeded to commit or attempt suicide,” the police report says.
The report recommends that the Gender and Children Affairs ministry draws up policies to educate the public on “effective detection and response to domestic violence cases.”