Police in Mombasa County are grappling with a wave of crime perpetrated by gangs of young criminals, which has sent shockwaves among security agencies, politicians and parents.
Members of the gangs are believed to have started off as football players in organised teams within the six constituencies.
Later, however, most dropped out of school and started using drugs. They ended up in crime with some of the gangs being used by politicians to fight their opponents.
Even more shocking is the emergence of a bizarre crime where the young criminals have taken to attacking women and harassing them sexually by fondling and sucking their breasts when they fail to give them money.
Girls are also forming their own criminal gangs. A girl who confessed to being a member of a gang in Likoni said the group of 10 girls has been attacking women who go to the market early in the morning and those attending weddings at night.
The 14-year-old girl, who came out seeking amnesty, said members of the group called Chafu has been using drugs.
“Our leader is aged 25. We have to smoke bhang first,” said the girl who had gone to Haki Africa, a human rights organisation, to seek help.
The class seven drop-out, who was accompanied by her parents, said the gang members hide along the beach in an area called Magwagwani.
“We would go to a wedding and stay there until late at night. I did not like this and that is why I quit the group. After a successful operation we would go to our hide out which is near Shelly Beach,” she said.
She said her friends convinced her to join the gang. “I don’t want to be in the Likoni area. I know I am a bright girl and I want to go back to school. I want to turn my back to the bad ways,” she added.
Her mother expressed relief and urged parents to steer their children away from crime.