How war on illicit brews has improved security in Machakos

Criminals have nowhere to hide after drinking dens were shut, official said

In Summary

• County commissioner said some criminals used to hide in clubs, bars and lodges

• Tens of suspects were arrested during a police swoop and arraigned in court

Machakos county commissioner Josephine Ouko addresses the public at a past event
Machakos county commissioner Josephine Ouko addresses the public at a past event

The crackdown on illicit brews, drugs and substance abuse has improved security in Machakos county, the county commissioner has said.

Machakos county commissioner Josephine Ouko on Wednesday told the Star drinking dens were used as hideouts by criminals.

"For the last two and a half weeks, criminal gangs have had nowhere to hide after several clubs and bars were closed down," she said.

The crackdown began after a presidential directive following the death of 17 people in Kirinyaga after consuming illicit brew last month.

Ouko said 393 people have been arrested as at March 20 since the directive was issued on March 6.

Athi River East subcounty police commander Anderson Mbae said  some criminals hid in illicit brew dens as they either plan or await to commit crime.

“Others used bars, clubs and lodges in Mlolongo, Katani and Syokimau areas as their hideouts after committing crime in the county or elsewhere,” Mbae said.

"Closure of such joints has made life difficult for them."

She said tens of such suspected criminals had been arrested during a police swoop and arraigned in Mavoko law courts, while others fled.

Mbae said the gangs included those used by some individuals to terrorise residents and investors in quarries, especially in Ngelani and Katani.

“1,538 raids have so far been conducted,” Ouko said.

She said 14,799 litres of illicit brews have been netted and destroyed, as well as 10,901 litres of counterfeits/unaccustomed alcohol and 288 rolls and six plants of bhang.

Some 300 litres of illegal ethanol was also netted and destroyed, while 1,189 non-compliant alcohol outlets were closed.

The bars that were closed and their operators arrested include those which operated without licences, traded in illicit liquor against the law or operated after 11pm. 

Manufacturers of second-generation liquor who operated without required documents, including trading in counterfeits, were not spared. They were arrested, charged in court and their businesses closed.

Administrators involved in the crackdown include deputy county commissioners Patrick Mwangi (Athi River), David Rotich (Machakos Town), Eveline Wekesa (Matungulu) and their Mwala subcounty counterpart David Tegutwa.

Also involved are Mbae and his Athi River South counterpart Jos Mudavadi.

Others are Emmanuel Okanda (Machakos), Peter Omondi (Matungulu) and Nancy Jerobon (Mwala).

Mudavadi said all bars and clubs operating near schools and residences in Athi River South had been closed and action taken against the culprits.

“We are equal to the task and not relenting in the war any time soon until the area is totally cleaned up. No more illegal trade in Athi River,” the police boss said.

Okanda said they are striving to rid Machakos town and its environs of illicit liquor and narcotics.

He said several dealers, especially of counterfeited second–generation liquor, had been arrested and charged in Machakos law courts.

Ouko on March 14 led in the destruction of 5,304 bottles of illicit liquor in Machakos town.

Two vehicles were impounded and their drivers nabbed during operations that led to the liquor’s seizure.

In Matungulu subcounty, Sh2.5m worth of counterfeit second - generation liquor was destroyed on March 8.

Some 100 litres of fake keg and ethanol were also destroyed at KBC police station after they were seized by the security team led by Wekesa and Omondi.

They were all recovered from a known liquor stockist in Matungulu subcounty.

Mwala subcounty police commander Nancy Jerobon said they were ridding the area, known for high cases of narcotics, especially bhang, of the drug.

Jerobon said several kilogrammes of bhang had been destroyed and suspects arraigned after they were found with the outlawed drug.

“We have also reduced incidents of bhang growing in Mwala subcounty,” Jerobon said.

"Those involved in illicit liquor business aren’t spared, too. We execute the presidential order on illicit brews, drug and substance abuse without fear or favour."

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