•Mombasa county commander Stephen Matu told the Star the police are ready to receive those who want to surrender, so long as they are genuine.
•He said so far, at least 60 suspected gangsters across the county have been arrested and charged in court in the last month.
At least 80 gangsters operating mostly in Likoni, some on the police most wanted list, are ready to surrender to authorities following former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko’s plea.
Sonko has said he will work with security agencies in Mombasa and replicate an amnesty programme he initiated in Nairobi.
This saw dangerous criminals surrender their illegally owned rifles and embrace peace in exchange for jobs.
On Tuesday, one of the ring leaders of a gang in Likoni who is on the police radar reached out to Sonko’s aides through a proxy, saying he is willing to surrender.
He said he has been in the criminal world for 14 years.
“I am young but because of the many life problems, I found myself in the criminal world,” he said.
He said his only family is his mother.
“We ask for job opportunities from Sonko so we can change our lives. We do this because we have no jobs,” he said.
“We also ask him to help us mend our relationship with the police if possible. We are tired of playing hide and seek games with them.”
He however said his team is not ready to lay down their tools of trade yet unless they find meaningful jobs to put food on the table.
“If they will ask for them, we will provide them. Because we have not yet succeeded in life, how can we surrender them yet we know a soldier should have his weapon with him?” one of the ring leaders said.
He said he has all the contacts of at least 80 of the gangsters who operate under him.
The suspected gangsters however say they fear for their lives and want assurances from the security organs that once they lay down their weapons under the amnesty programme, they will not be victimised and arrested or killed.
“These youth need assurances that once they decide to change their lives, they will not be hunted down by the security organs. It is their greatest fear,” a man who did not want to be identified said.
Mombasa county commander Stephen Matu told the Star the police are ready to receive those who want to surrender, so long as they are genuine.
He said they do not kill members of the public even if they commit a serious crime.
“We arrest and take them to court,” Matu said.
He said so far, at least 60 suspected gangsters across the county have been arrested and charged in court in the last month.
“If we were the killing type, these would have been killed,” Matu said.
He said he is ready to work with anybody who will have ideas to help reduce crime in Mombasa.
On Saturday, Sonko said the solution is to create enough jobs for the youth.
He said the youth in Mombasa are jobless, making them frustrated and resort to criminal activities to get money.
“We have to bring them together, as leaders, disarm them and give them development projects to empower them economically,” Sonko said.
Already, some of the idle youth in Likoni have been recruited to the Sonko Rescue Team and will be deployed once the team starts operating in Mombasa.
The group of about 15 youth from Likoni are currently in Nairobi undergoing training on rescue missions and community work.
Sonko said together with Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo, who is his running mate in the Mombasa governor race, they will replicate an amnesty and disarmament programme he initiated in Nairobi.
“In Nairobi, there were more dangerous criminals with AK-47s than in Mombasa. We resolved that. The solution is not gunning them down,” he said at a rally in Shanzu.
“We sat down with security officers and came up with an amnesty programme that helped reduce the crime rate in Nairobi. We will do the same in Mombasa.”
Sonko called on the criminal youth to surrender their weapons and join the programme that they will initiate to help them get jobs.
He said his administration will strive to have rehabilitation centres in each of the six subcounties in Mombasa to help drug addicts.
He said drug abuse contributes to crime.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris