Kenyan fishers to pay fine or spend seven years in Ugandan prison

The fishermen's families and colleagues have raised Sh5,000 so far.

A section of Remba Island on Lake Victoria as pictured on October 13, 2017. Nyatike MP Tom Odege has asked the government to address the plight of the Lake Victoria fishers once and for all. PHOTO | BARACK ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • The six, including a KCSE candidate of Kibuon Secondary School, were apprehended on the night of August 24.

  • They will either pay a cumulative fine of Sh37,000 or spend seven years in a prison in Uganda.

  • Nyangw’ena Beach Management Unit chairman, Mr Zadock Kawa, said their relatives and colleagues were collecting money to pay the fine.

  • Nyatike MP Tom Odege has asked the government to address the plight of the Lake Victoria fishers once and for all, as residents give plenty of money in the form of bribes and fines.

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Six Kenyan fishermen were charged in Uganda on Wednesday with fishing in foreign territory.

They will either pay a cumulative fine of Sh37,000 or spend seven years in a prison in the neighbouring country.

NO INTERVENTION

The six, including a KCSE candidate of Kibuon Secondary School, were apprehended on the night of August 24.

They were identified as Jacob Ogweno, Nelly Ochieng, Michael Supi, student Frankline Ochieng, Odhiambo Nyundo and Kosu Odira, all from Nyangw’ena Beach of Muhuru bay in Nyatike sub-county, Migori County.

"They were arrested in Uganda's waters. They violated the country's laws. There was nothing the Kenyan government could do to help them," Migori County Commissioner, Mr Joseph Rotich, said.

Nyangw’ena Beach Management Unit chairman, Mr Zadock Kawa, said their relatives and colleagues were collecting money to pay the fine.

"So far, we have a paltry 5,000," Mr Kawa said

NO SECURITY

Mr Kawa said Ugandan soldiers take advantage of the lack of police presence to arbitrarily arrest Kenyans.

“In the lake we can’t be aware of boundaries and there are no Kenyan security personnel there. That is why Ugandan police arrest us often," he said, adding they are worried that more arrests will take place.

Mr Ochieng's parents said they are afraid he will miss the national secondary school examination.

“I am worried about my son, who is supposed to write the exam in two months' time. I hope he will be released on time,” his father, Mr Johanes Odendo, said.

He said Ugandan soldiers earlier demanded Sh100,000 for the release of the six.

Nyatike MP Tom Odege has asked the government to address the plight of the Lake Victoria fishers once and for all, as residents give plenty of money in the form of bribes and fines.

EMPTY PROMISES

Mr Odege noted that the government, through Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, has in the past promised to address the issue.

“The secretary was in Siaya and Homa Bay counties. Despite giving promises he has failed to take any action," he said, noting the government is expected to protect its borders and citizens.

While citing the Migingo Island row, he said: "President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to act to alleviate the suffering Kenyans undergo in Lake Victoria, in the hands of Ugandans."

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