A crackdown on the notorious Nairobi CBD muggers has nabbed over 35 suspects, Nairobi Police Commander Japhet Koome said yesterday.
In a press conference, Nairobi Regional Commissioner Bernard Leparmarai, who was flanked by Koome and AP Commandant Francis Mburu, said the arrested suspects are all below the age of 25 and would face robbery with violence charges.
The arrests come in the wake of a public outcry from Nairobians over the marauding gangs that rob people in broad daylight.
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko has since set up an anti-mugging squad comprising officers drawn from the County, Regular and Administration Police units.
The county has marked Temple and Hakati roads as well as Moi and Haile Selassie Avenues as the hot spots for the muggings.
Other areas include the lower CBD, OTC Racecourse road, Uyoma road near St Peter’s Clever Church and the junction of Ronald Ngala and Racecourse roads towards River road.
The muggers reportedly hide in a garage at the junction of Ring road and New Pumwani roads, and in Globe roundabout culverts from 4 am to 6 am and from 7 pm to 11 pm.
Tito Kilonzo, who is the city’s chief security officer for compliance and disaster management, said the criminals are strategic and that they also target people leaving ATMs, forex bureaus and M-Pesa shops.
Once they identify targets, he said, the gangs follow in smaller groups and surround the victims to prevent escapes. They then snatch valuables such as phones, watches, laptops, handbags, earrings, chains, in the shortest time possible.
It is alleged the gangs include the notorious 40 Brothers and Gaza boys, and that members number about 10.
Commissioner Bernard Leparmarai assured Nairobians of their safety, noting security agencies have pledged to get rid of the criminals.
“I want to assure everybody that we will do all things possible to nab petty criminals. There will be anti-mugging squad to work with the county too to curb these vices.”
The Commissioner further announced that hawkers who have taken over the city streets will be flushed out as police seek to secure the Central Business District.
“Another menace is that of hawkers and we are working with the county government to ensure we reign on them, also to ensure they are selling genuine products. They might have allowed hawkers in the CBD because they wanted votes. Now the elections are over we are going to clear them off our streets,” said Leparmarai.
“This is a multi-agency task and we will ensure the city is safe for everybody. We have started late but better late than never and we will keep at it,” said Nairobi Police Commander Japhet Koome.