By Olga Otieno
Juma* watched in shock as a group of youngsters attacked and robbed a young lady who was walking behind him. She had been using her smart phone, oblivious of the ruthless gang that was coming for her. It was so unfortunate that he could only watch helplessly for he was highly outnumbered. He pitied the female residents for their vulnerability made them easy target for the criminal gangs.
Crime in Mikindani Mombasa has been on a steady rise, MPESA shops being their main targets and passersby’s smart phones. The criminals involved have even gained courage to brandish guns at victims and anyone who would care to come to their rescue.
Screenshot of video of Kwa Ruto Maskani discussing peace and security
According to youths from the Kwa Ruto maskani, during an interview with Miss Wevyn Muganda, the police don’t trust the youth anymore, constantly arresting and harassing them thus abusing their human rights in the process. As a result, cooperation between the public and the police has dwindled due to the fear and mistrust that had been instilled in them. They went on and complained of the laxity of police in handling emergency cases.
Ali* attested to this fact on one unfortunate night when he witnessed a church in Mikindani being robbed by rogue youths. He had a police contact whom he called. To his dismay, no one arrived. “The robbery went on for around 45 minutes and they still didn’t show up at all, they didn’t come,” he says.
Unemployment has been a menace in Mombasa County. A number of youths end up being idle especially after they clear their high school and their upper level education. Most of these young men tend to spend their days idling around, making them a target to exploiters and bad older peers, who entice them with their spoils, promising the naïve younger ones more if they followed their thieving ways. Other youngsters are unfortunately victims of poor parenting and end up joining gangs at a tender age due to lack of parental guardianship guidance which affirms the proverbial saying, spare the rod and spoil the child.
In their quest for a better Mikindani, the youth from the maskani urged the younger men to shun laziness and strive to create employment for themselves. They insisted on better relations with the police for it would go a long way in curbing insecurity. They also encouraged community policing, which would give strengthen the Nyumba Kumi initiative.
“We should stop sympathizing with criminals. Parents should stop hiding their criminal children but instead turn them over to the police before they become uncontrollable,” one says.
“It would be better if we got a toll-free police number to make reports on a suspicious citizen for further investigations for when a member of the public feels intimidated and they’re not willing to blow their cover,” another volunteers. Formation of vigilante groups was also suggested as it will ensure maximum security at night for residents.
In concluding remarks, the host Wevyn Muganda called for the respect of human rights for all citizens as this would ultimately contribute to peace and security. Leaders should give ear to their people especially at the grassroots since their primary role is to represent the interests of the people. The young people should shun violent ways of addressing their concerns and instead take up active roles as citizens in their communities.
You always have to remember;
‘There is no peace without development and no development without peace, and there is neither peace nor development without the respect for human rights’
For more on the voices from Mikindani click link below to watch the first episode of Kauli Zetu Mtaani; a platform that seeks to amplify the unheard voices of young people in informal spaces in Mombasa, Kenya.
*names have been changed.