Written by Valerie Bunyasi and Mishi Zero
Read 1867 Times
Four suspected cattle thieves who were lynched and burned at Kiminini Market of Trans Nzoia County in the presence of law enforcers. One of the many incents of mob mentality in the society. [ Photo | Saka Richard | West Fm]
Mob justice has become a rampant practice in the society today. In most cases the public does not wait for the law enforcement agencies to get to a scene where a crime has been committed especially theft. They instead have developed a tendency of taking the law into their own hands.
Suspects and criminals when caught are either beaten or burned alive. Only a few lucky ones escape this horrendous fate.
Mob justice has become deep rooted in our society. Initially, we used to hear of cases whereby criminals were beaten by an angry mob in the early 1990s and this used to happen mostly in the big towns especially in Nairobi, not rural urban centers.
Stories would be told of how a person shouted; thief, thief, thief, and the whole crowd would start running in the direction of the voice, even the thief would also be running in the same direction shouting thief, thief, thief!
Then you wonder who they caught. That is where innocent people lose their lives, although in most cases it is the criminals themselves who face the law from the merciless hands of the mob.
Then the country was send into an uproar when old women and men in a certain region of our country were being burned alive in their houses on allegations that they were practicing witchcraft.
Contrary to what is happening nowadays as mob justice has become like a full blown disease in our country, whether in urban or rural areas.
The questions we need to ask ourselves are: why has mob justice become so rampant today? Is it because Kenyans are just thirsty for the blood of their fellow men or is it because they are just frustrated by our judicial system and security enforcing agencies?
Statistics according to the Bungoma OCPD show that mob justice cases in Bungoma South have risen this year as compared to last year between the month of January and May. This year, five people have already lost their lives through the horrendous act as compared to last year where seven people died between January and December as per his records.
Most of the residents’ opinion was that mob justice is the most effective way of combating crime due to lack of faith in the relevant line departments.
Martin khisa of the bodaboda operators in the region said that the only way of dealing with criminals is to kill them as this will help get rid of this vice together with the perpetrators.
“Thieves have been harassing us very much especially now, as they take advantage of this heavy and long rainy season knowing very well that its unlikely for a neighbor to hear you even if you call for help or its inconvenient for them to come to your rescue because of the rains and I think the only way of dealing with them is to give them a piece of their own medicine,” he said.
He lamented that the judicial system has also let them down as suspects are either released on bond or when sentenced to prison it’s only for a short while then they are set lose on the streets back to their activities.
“These people break into our houses, attack people, rob them, beat them up, maim and some go as far as murdering their fellow human beings just to get their property and when they are taken to court they are released on bond or even when they are sentenced they only get a short time in prison then they are set free”, said Martin Khisa.
“Can you imagine if you accused such a person in court or witnessed against them and after a short while they are out there and there is a possibility you will meet and interact? This would make you fear for your life that’s why we would rather take care of them ourselves rather than take them to the police,” he added.
He urged the police and the entire judicial system to give the criminals a tougher punishment to deter them from going back to their criminal ways.
On the other hand, John Juma another resident in Bungoma town was of the opinion that no one has the right to take another human’s life except God himself because He is the one who gave them that life.
He said that the reason why the police and the judicial system is there is to deal with such issues and maintain law and order in society therefore the public has no mandate to take the law in their own hands.
He said, “I don’t think its right for a man to die because he was caught stealing a chicken or a bar of soap, such a person should be taken to the court where they would be punished according to the laws of our country.”
Mr. Juma attributed the rise of criminal activities in the region on unemployment citing that many young people quit school very early in life therefore lack a lot of opportunities to better their lives leading to most of them resorting to crime to support themselves.
He said the government, the church and the community at large to help young people in the society by providing opportunities for them to get jobs, through guiding and counseling which will go a long way in building the characters of the youth thus reducing crime.
He emphasized that the community should accept the ex-offenders back into the society after they have served their sentence according to the law and help in rehabilitating them as this will help them change their way of life and also deter them from going back to their criminal ways.
According to Section 49 of Chapter two of the Constitution which talks about the rights of arrested persons 1 (f) States that a suspect should be taken to court as soon as reasonably possible but not later than twenty-four hours after being arrested or if the twenty- four hours ends outside ordinary court hours or on a day that is not an ordinary court day, the end of the next court day.
(h) Of that part states that a suspect is to be released on bond or bail on reasonable conditions pending a charge or trial unless there are compelling reasons not to be released.
Part 2 states that a person shall not be remanded in custody for an offence if the offence is punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for not more than six months.
The ACK Bishop who is also the chairman of the NCCK in the western region George Mechumo has condemned this act saying it goes against the constitution and the Christian believes.
“No one has the right to take another person’s life as this goes against both the constitution and the Christian believes; according to the constitution every suspected criminal has a right to defend himself or herself whether they are guilty or innocent therefore killing this people before they are charged before a court of law is going against their rights,” he said.
Bishop Mechumo added that the public is frustrated with the way the police and the law courts handle these criminals thus resorting to taking the law in their own hands.
He argued that the church had previously disagreed with some of the clauses in the constitution during the referendum but some leaders had urged the public to vote for constitution arguing that some clauses could be changed but they have not done so.
However, the Bishop urged the public not to take the law into their own hands arguing that human life is God given therefore no one has a right to do away with it.
“God gave man his own breath to give him life therefore no one has a right to do away with it except God Himself; we should all come together as a community to guide and support our youth as a way of improving their future instead of condemning them,” he added.
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