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Homa Bay police swap seized illicit brew with water

Monday February 3 2020

Raid on illicit brew dens Homa Bay

Government officials in Central Division, Suba Suba-County in Homa Bay during a raid on illicit brew dens on February 1, 2020. Police in the county have been accused of hindering the success in the war against the brews by alerting the brewers of impeding raids. PHOTO | JUSTUS OCHIENG | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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VITALIS KIMUTAI
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Many families in Kenya are ravaged by consumption of illicit brews and substance abuse.

This has compelled the State to issue a stern warning against brewing and sale of illicit brews as well as peddling of other substances.

Through the police and national government administrators, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho are fighting to end the menace.

But in Homa Bay, rogue police officers are even said to collude with brewers and peddlers to promote the illegal business.

RISKY RAIDS

This has forced government administrators to risk their lives by conducting raids without assistance of the police.

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"We risk a lot. We could even be attacked. We depend on our numbers for strength. We have no armed officers with us because every time they accompany us, we get nothing because they text the brewers beforehand," said an official in the county who has been at the forefront in the fight against illicit brews.

The Ministry of Interior has, however, reiterated its resolve to fight illicit brews across the country.

CHIEFS ATTACKED

In some places, chiefs and their assistants have been attacked as they endeavour to fight the brews.

In Homa Bay, police are now on the spot over claims of colluding with brewers and illicit brew sellers to frustrate government efforts to deal with the menace.

Currently, police officers based at Sindo Patrol Base in Suba Sub-County are on the spot over claims of replacing with water at least 140 litres of chang'aa which had been seized during a raid on Saturday.

The operation, which was led by Central Division Assistant County Commissioner Abdullalahi Abdimalik assisted by chiefs, their assistants and village elders, netted 140 litres of the brew.

During the raid, a suspect, Mr Vitalis Otieno, was arrested.

REPLACED WITH WATER

But, to the dismay of the authorities, some police officers replaced the brew with water “in a bid to paralyse the case and absolve the suspect from blame.”

Homa Bay County Commissioner David Kipkemei said a report has been filed with the county DCI office which is investigating the matter.

"It is true some police officers colluded with a suspect and replaced at least 140 litres of chang'aa with water to beat the court process. Investigations have been launched and the culprits will be brought to book," Mr Kipkemei said.

On Sunday, Nyanza Regional Commissioner James Kianda said he had also taken up the matter and promised to ensure action is taken on the perpetrators.

“I have taken up the matter with the regional police commander and investigations will be conducted and appropriate action taken,” Mr Kianda told the Nation.

POLICE ALERTING SUSPECTS

Authorities in parts of Homa Bay have resorted to conducting raids without the help of police officers despite the risks involved “as some officers have been accused of alerting the suspects beforehand who disappear and also conceal evidence”.

In Bomet, three suspects who attacked chiefs and seriously wounded them during a raid on a chang’aa den four months ago have finally been arrested.

The suspects, who had been on the run, were arrested after sneaking back to their homes in Cheptalal, Konoin Constituency.

Bomet County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said the suspects, including a woman, were arrested following a tip-off from members of the public.

“The suspects will be arraigned on charges of assaulting officers on duty and resisting arrest,” said Mr Omoding.

He said the suspects had waited for the matter to cool down before sneaking back to their homes but they were shocked to find the police file was still open.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Omoding said the suspects had sought refuge in Mauche in the neighbouring Nakuru County after learning that police were on their trail.

“We will not entertain attacks against administrators who are implementing government policies and programmes,” said Mr Omoding on Sunday morning.

Four other suspects were arrested a few days after the incident and have since been arraigned in Sotik where they denied assaulting the administrators and inflicting serious bodily harm on them.