Police in Murang’a have arrested 50 youngsters suspected to belong to criminal gangs as the war on crime intensifies.
The youths, most of whom are aged between 12 and 19 years, were arrested on various dates in the month of November and claim to be affiliated to proscribed gangs such as Gaza, Mungiki and 42 Brothers, in which they have perfected the art of terror and extortion.
County police boss Mohammed Farah said that patrols have been intensified in Kabati and Kandara, which are the worst affected by the proliferation of criminal gangs.
He scoffed at claims that the boys were deadly gangsters, saying that this was a front they liked to use to instil terror and extort the public.
"These are just indisciplined boys who are impersonating members of deadly squads and who are taking advantage of the growth of Kabati town to demand money from investors,” Mr Farah said.
"But we have arrested the masterminds, who have helped us to nab more of them, and we shall continue until all areas are secure," he added.
He reassured residents that the police have already contained the situation.
At the same time, Mr Farah blamed the courts over what he called lenient bail terms handed down to suspects once arraigned, which gave them leeway to get back into the communities to continue in their criminal ways.
He cited the case of eight suspects who were arrested while performing gang rituals at Tosheka only to be released on lenient bond terms. He claimed that the suspects had relapsed to crime.
"Our hands are tied. The courts do not even ask the police about the security situation on the ground before imposing bond terms for accused persons," he told the Nation.
But he assured locals and investors that the criminals would be wiped out, telling them not to fear.
Two weeks ago, the county security committee led by county commissioner John Elungata held a meeting with boda boda operators at Kabati, during which they were instructed to stop their operations at 11pm and bring the authorities in the loop regarding their night shift routines.
Mr Farah said police have already arrested seven suspects in connection with the murder of an initiate, Juliana Kanyonyo, said to have been killed after he failed to give the gang a mature cockerel.
He accused a section of the media of instilling fear by alleging that deadly squads have taken over Kabati without confirming with the police.
"We know that there are deadly squads who kill and maim people, but these groups of indisciplined young men are not part of these gangs. It’s unfortunate that the media have taken a liking to referring to them as 42 brothers and Gaza without first seeking confirmation from us. These young men are mere imposters," he said while rebuffing claims of runaway insecurity in the county.