SECURITY THREATS

Uhuru lays bare crime surge in security report

New government report shows crime increased by 5.8 per cent in last year.

In Summary

• Terrorists targeting learning institutions, prisons to radicalise and recruit.

• Mungiki is re-emerging in all Central Kenya counties and other gangs are active in parts of the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of honour shortly after arriving at the Parliament Buildings for SOTNA on November 12, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of honour shortly after arriving at the Parliament Buildings for SOTNA on November 12, 2020.
Image: FREDERICK OMONDI

Kenya has recorded a crime surge the government attributes to the country’s jobs crisis, incitement and support of outlawed groups by political leaders.

 
 

A new report on the state of national security tabled in Parliament by President Uhuru Kenyatta shows that crime in Kenya increased by 5.8 per cent in 2019.

Uhuru partly put the blame on the political elite whom the report accused of supporting and bankrolling activities of outlawed groups.

 
 

The report compiled by the National Intelligence Service and other agencies says politicians are at the centre of the re-emergence of the outlawed Mungiki sect, land and boundary disputes as well as inter-communal conflicts.

“Whereas the threats posed by Mungiki significantly declined during the period, there was re-emergence of activities by its remnants in parts of Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Kiambu and Laikipia counties,” the 35-page report states.

“This was partly attributed to the support of the outlawed group by some political leaders coupled with the Mungiki leader’s quest to reassert his position as the sect leader.”

Mungiki sect members, the report says, majorly used public gatherings disguised as worship meetings to popularise the sect, recruit members and coordinate activities.

The report comes just weeks after an intelligence report showed that politicians from both sides of Jubilee were involved in the planning and execution of the chaos in Kenol town, Murang’a, which led to the death of two youths.

 
 

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai ordered the arrest of Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome but the decision was not executed.

In the report, the government admits that youth unemployment is a major contributor to the crime surge.

 
 

“The major causes of these threats [crime surge] included: unemployment, perceived marginalisation, environmental degradation, technological advancements, regional conflicts, corruption, unhealthy political competition and negative ethnicity,” the report states.

In Mombasa, for instance, the government identified the activities of at least three organised criminal groups: Wajukuu wa Bibi, Wakali Wao and Wakali Kwanza.

These groups comprised of released convicts and youth between the ages of 11 and 25 years.

Despite their age, they are brutal and use crude weapons to rob, maim and create fear among members of the public, the report states.

Mungiki, Gaza, Kayole Boys and Superpower were identified in Nairobi and its environs, while in Kakamega, Kisumu and Bungoma counties there is 42 Brothers.

 In Kiambu, Kamagira and Quil operating in Thika and Kikuyu areas extorted money from operators of public service vehicles and other businessmen.

The report shows that terrorism remains a major security threat in Kenya.

It established that learning institutions and correctional facilities have become a haven for radicalisation and recruitment of al Shabaab militants.

“Al Shabaab operatives, radicalisers and recruiters mainly targeted vulnerable youths within learning institutions, mosques and madrassas as a soft pool and thereafter facilitating their travel to Somalia to join other militants in their training,” the report states.

It shows that terrorist groups have stretched their activities to radicalise and recruit from prisons.

“These activities were given impetus by Kenyan recruiters based in Somalia who mostly exploited the social and family networks to persuade their friends to join their terrorist networks,” the report says.

Last year, there was a reported plot to facilitate the escape of two Iranian nationals detained at the Kamiti Maximum Prison over terrorism-related charges.

The plot involved Iranian officials and prison warders, some of whom were arrested and charged.

The government says in the latest report that it deployed counter-terrorism initiatives which led to disruption of a number of high-profile planned attacks.

However, it raised the red flag on increased criminal activities associated with Kenyan returning fighters who sneaked into the country from Somalia following sustained persecution and ill-treatment by their counterparts.

In some areas within South Coast in Kwale, the returning fighters assassinated village elders, religious leaders and local government administrators whom they perceived to be working with the government on counter-terrorism.

Besides terrorism, President Kenyatta reported that corruption, organised criminal gangs, inter-communal conflicts, gender-based violence, human trafficking and smuggling, drug trafficking, illicit brews and smuggling of contraband and counterfeit products are still rife.

He said land and boundary disputes have remained a concern in at least nine counties.

These are Narok, Kitui, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Lamu, Tana River, Isiolo and Meru.

“They have mainly been due to conflicts over grazing land, administrative boundaries, political incitement and community hostilities,” the report states.

Cybercrime incidents were also high with 1,203 cases examined by DCI Digital Forensic Laboratory as compared to 992 cases of 2018.

“Majority of the cases received aided investigators unearth electronic fraud, network intrusions, hate speech and child pornography. A total of 360 cases were presented in the courts,” the report states.

In 2019 alone, the Communication Authority of Kenya reported six million attacks, targeting both government and private institutions.

The cost of cybercrime to the Kenyan economy stood at an estimated Sh29.5 billion, the report says.

Key cyber-crime incidents witnessed include SIM swap, hackings/unauthorised intrusions into IT systems, insider threats and identity theft as well as web application attacks.

President Kenyatta told MPs that criminal elements continue to compromise public officers to perpetrate their illicit activities.

He said this is rampant in acquisition of identification documents, smuggling of contraband, drug trafficking, human trafficking, poaching and small arms dealings.

A total of 705 illegal firearms and 10,284 ammunitions were recovered during the year under review while 171 firearms were surrendered.

The report indicates that the police received 93,411 reports of crime compared with 88,268 in 2018. This is an increase of 5.8 per cent.

Assault, stealing, creating disturbance, possession of drugs, defilement and malicious damage were on the rise.

However, stock theft went down by 5.5 per cent, vehicle hijackings 5.3 per cent and breaking 0.1 per cent.

President Kenyatta exuded confidence the Building Bridges Initiative report is a step towards fostering national unity and solving Kenya’s socio-economic issues.

He said the country, despite the bolstered multi-agency efforts, is yet to get out of the woods in the fight against graft.

DPP Noordin Haji recently revealed that corruption cases in courts involve up to Sh224 billion for the past three years.