Parents of teenage gangsters face arrest

Parents of the teenage gangsters terrorising Mombasa will be arrested in a desperate bid to curb crime in the tourist haven.

Police and county officials said gangs of idle youth, some as young as 12, has become a menace, especially in the Old Town where attacks on residents and visitors are on the rise.

Speaking on Thursday after chairing a meeting with interest groups, County Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said parents who cannot control their children would now be held responsible.

"If your child is supposed to be in school but is found loitering with a gang, we will arrest you and take you to court," he warned.

"The government pays that child's fees and you have to adhere to the laws," he said. Mombasa has at least 12 juvenile criminal gangs whose members' ages are between 12 and 18.

Mr Mohamed identified the gangs as Wakali Kwanza, Wakali Wao, Kapenguria Six, Born to Kill, Vietnam, Akili za Usiku, 64 Gang, Memory Gang, Watalia Gang, Young Thugs, Gaza and Crazy Boys.

Most of the knife-wielding gangsters operate in Old Town and the central business district.

Their reign of terror is said to be behind the latest warning by the US Embassy in Nairobi to Americans against visiting Old Town, a popular tourist destination.

Other hotspots to avoid are Kalahari, Kwa Hola, Bomu, Chaani, Kuze, King'orani, Mwembe Tanganyika, Peugeot Place, Lebanon, Timboni, Guraya, Sparki, Burukenge, Soko Mjinga, Bakarani, Kibarani, Mwandoni, Mtopanga and Hongera.

Mr Mohamed, who heads the county security team, said chiefs would also be held responsible for child criminals' activities in their areas.

"Ensuring these youth go to school is one of the performance indicators we are going to give chiefs,'' he said.

"If there are children in your area who are supposed to be in school but they are not, you are not supposed to be in that office," Mr Mohamed said.

COMMUNAL EFFORT

The meeting was attended by MPs, officials from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, county government, county assembly, peace committees, private security firms, the tourism industry and county intelligence committee.

"We have put in place new measures to deal with these youth. We have invested a lot in the security sector and you will soon see the fruits," Mr Mohamed warned.

He added that another strategy would be to revive the Nyumba Kumi initiative.

He also said profiling of suspected criminals in the six sub-counties was in progress.

Mr Mohammed said the leaking of information by rogue police officers was challenge in the fight against crime.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, in whose constituency Old Town is located, urged security agents to help ascertain the number of young people who were not in school.

He also asked parents to stop running to politicians for assistance when their children are arrested for involvement in crime. He said whenever politicians seek the release of suspects the fight against crime is frustrated.

"We have agreed that nobody should approach us to help release their children if they are arrested for a crime,'' said the MP. "We will help you if you share information with security teams. We need to understand that the police are for us and not against us."

Source: Daily Nation