Night weddings have been shortened in Mombasa as the island grapples with the menace of gangs of young criminals.
County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed ordered wedding celebrations to end at 10 pm but said if more time was required, the police should be notified and a fee paid to provide armed police officers.
The directive comes barely a week after a youth was stabbed and injured by colleagues in a fight over the spoils of a robbery.
“That was three days ago when there were more than three weddings,” he said. More than 20 criminal gangs run amok in the six sub-counties.
The young criminals roam the streets of Mombasa where they beat and rob residents and tourists.
Commission for Human Rights and Justice executive director Julius Ogogoh, however, said the curtailing was unfair on a particular group of people.
“The government cannot ban night weddings, which are cultural in this region,” he said. “Instead, security agencies must deal with the gangs. We are in the 21st century and such orders are archaic,” he added.
Night wedding celebrations are common among the Swahili peoples.
Mr Mohamed also warned politicians against dividing residents on ethnic and religious lines.
Addressing members of Panda Mbegu, a community-based organisation yesterday, Mr Mohamed urged women to assist the government by recording all politicians who spout hate speech at public gatherings and hand over the recordings to the authorities.
He urged parents with children in the gangs to notify the government. “Remember the saying, spare the rod and spoil the child,” he said.
He said it was absurd that boys as young as 12 were feared by their parents. He warned parents who fail to take their children to school that they will face the law.