By Dennis Rasto
The State has been petitioned to regulate sale of machetes, knives and other cutting implements to curb proliferation of weapons in the hands of criminal gangs.
Officials of Kenya Internally Displaced Persons Organization (KIDPO) have further called on the Ministry of Interior and Administration of National Government and Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry to ensure sale of the weapons is monitored by the National Police Service (NPS) while traders dealing in these items are placed under surveillance by the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS).
KIDPO patron Mr Peter Tena said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) should also be on the lookout for influential political operatives buying pangas, knives, bow and arrows because they are weapons used to unleash terror during demonstrations and political rallies.
Mr Tena suggested that buyers of pangas and knives be required to provide IDs and state purpose of purchase, while traders be monitored and maintain records so that it is possible to trace the buyers and quantities bought.
“There is a need to restrict the purchase of such weapons, knowing the buyer and the purpose for the purchase,” he said.
Addressing the media in Nakuru the KIDPO patron urged the state agencies to compel manufacturers to embrace innovation by deploying Information Communication Technology to stop misuse of pangas and knives by embossing or engraving them with different serial numbers before sale.
While noting that the weapons have in the recent past been used in violent activities by organized criminal gangs and political goons, Mr Tena suggested that the embossed number be stored in a computer system, showing details of the implement, so that in the event it is misused a traceability system will identify the owner.
He added: “If such a system is put in place it would be easy for law enforcement agencies to trace the purchaser. The system will also enable police to verify details of the seller through a computer or even phone (USSD code).”
Mr Tena appealed to all Members of Parliament to preach peace and exercise tolerance to divergent opinions.
He condemned a section of political leaders for instigating and causing violence during demonstrations called by Azimio Coalition which he said must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Mr Tena urged the police to act professionally and swiftly in accordance with the law to arrest perpetrators of violence.
The KIDPO patron said Kenya is a democracy and so everyone must be allowed to express their views without being intimidated.
“We don’t want violence in this country. We want peace. Opposition chief Raila Odinga and his Azimio Alliance brigade are free to hold rallies on condition that they uphold peace.
He warned that demonstrations should not lead to the destruction of property and destabilize the economy.
Mr Tena added: “Azimio has every right to protest. The right to demonstrate and picket is enshrined in our Constitution. However, the Constitution has no room for violent protests. The Opposition must therefore live up to its promise of holding peaceful protests.”
KIDPO coordinator Ms Eunice Wangari said Kenyans, who do not wish to take part in the protest, should be allowed to go on with their business as usual.
She observed that the majority of Kenyans were not impressed by ugly scenes witnessed in recent demos.
“Without doubt, Raila, or any other Kenyan, has a right to hold rallies. But Kenyans loathe seeing some people taking advantage of such democratic spaces to spread terror,” noted Ms Wangari.
She added: “Raila and other planners of these rallies must also warn their supporters beforehand to refrain from acts of thuggery. Democracy has no room for violence. But it has ample space for conflicting opinions.”
KIDPO Governing Council Member Ms Wanjiru Mburu called upon the government and Azimio la Umoja teams to lower their guard and give dialogue a chance to solve the current political impasse.
“What we are appealing is for the two sides to lower their expectations by dropping the so-called irreducible minimums. As much as we are calling for dialogue, the same cannot happen in a toxic environment,” said Ms Mburu.
She stated that the Azimio team led by Raila should instead explore other avenues to air their grievances.
She urged the aggrieved parties to solve their issues amicably to avoid more loss of lives.
“We urge all parties to table their concerns through meaningful dialogue and resolve their differences peacefully to build the nation together, ensuring no further loss of life,” Ms Mburu added.