Lamu, KENYA: The Citizen’s arrest law has officially been introduced in Lamu as a measure to fight and combat crime in the county.
This came just days after a 35-year-old hotelier, Jackson Wasi was slashed to death by an unknown machete-wielding gang as he headed back home from work in Bombay area in Lamu town last Saturday at around 10 pm.
Residents held demos and marched to the county commissioner’s office bearing the body of the deceased and demanded answers over increased attacks and insecurity on non-locals.
Addressing members of the public on Wednesday, Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo directed members of the public to take prompt action by arresting criminals and other culprits in their vicinity instead of having to wait for police to do it.
A citizen’s arrest is made by a person who is not a sworn law enforcement official.
The law is found under section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and according to the law, anyone can arrest a person committing an indictable offense.
Citizens can also arrest someone if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are committing an indictable offense.
An indictable offense can land a person in a Crown Court so it has to be a serious crime such as burglary or a violent offense.
But it may not be apparent whether the suspect’s behavior amounts to an indictable offense so the situation needs to be assessed carefully.
Kitiyo said his office was aware that many criminals who are arrested and released on bond are the ones continue to commit heinous crimes and murders in the region.
He said members of the public shouldn’t hesitate to arrest anyone they feel or witness to be harming or posing a danger to them.
He expressed disgust that courts are quick to release criminals on bonds who later on continue to cause members of the public sleepless nights.
“We are aware that criminals who are normally released on bond are the ones who come out and continue to terrorize people. From today I am giving you a direct order to arrest any such criminals in your midst.Don’t wait for the police, when you see them, pounce on them and arrest them and bring them to us,” said Kitiyo.
Following the recent murder incident of the hotelier, Kitiyo said his office has made reliable headways and that police are already holding several suspects in connection with the murder.
“I want to clearly state that the recent murder of the hotelier had nothing to do with tribe, religion or politics. It was a normal crime.We already have several suspects in our custody and we are positive we shall get to the bottom of this matter,” said Kitiyo.
He also warned those with a habit of walking around with blunt objects in public places saying such amounts to a crime punishable by law.