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Campus crime blamed on accommodation crisis

Student leaders in public universities have attributed the upsurge in crime among learners to limited accommodation facilities which forces their colleagues to rent houses neighbouring the institutions.

The leaders said the arrangement makes it hard to tell whether those who perpetrate crimes near universities are students or opportunistic crooks.

The representatives from Moi, Kenyatta, Maseno, Jaramogi and Kisii universities told the Sunday Nation separately, that the most rampant form of crime in campuses is theft of laptops and phones, which most students consider a “normal” offence.

At the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University in Siaya County, a government officer earlier this year told students to be wary of a group of about 10 people who lived in facilities mostly rented by students.

“He was telling us that there was a group which was pretending to be students, and in real sense they were not students because they were residing outside. They were involving themselves in robbery,” said Mike Nyamai, the president of the Jaramogi students’ union.

LAPTOP THEFTS

Because police cannot search premises occupied by students without facing resistance, criminals find such houses to be the perfect hideouts.

“We have advised the students that everybody should be keen with those who are visiting them because normally you don’t know who are your friends and who are not your friends,” Mr Nyamai added.

At Moi University, the students union’s Security and Accommodation Director David Okoth said that last week alone, he received reports of three laptops stolen. He said the number could be more because some other students report such cases to the campus security office.

“There are so many cases pending in the security office,” said Mr Okoth, who himself had his laptop stolen from his hostel room as he attended classes when he was a second year student.

According to Christine Muhia, a final year student, unscrupulous repairmen operating from near the university are fueling laptop theft among students.

“At the gate, people aren’t being checked for gate passes. Trade in laptop parts is booming business,” she said.

RENTAL FACILITIES

Extended accommodation facilities pose a similar challenge at Maseno University, according to the students’ Security and Accommodation Director Stephen Otieno.

“Some of the non-resident students collude with outsiders to steal, then go sell the items elsewhere,” said Mr Otieno.

Kenyatta University (KU) students have also fallen victim to crimes and they are blaming it on the rental facilities at Kenyatta Market, which borders the main campus.

Mr David Mnyamwezi, a radio host at KU’s FM station, said students dread venturing into the market after 8 pm because of the threat it poses.

KU has also been mentioned as harbouring students who are part of an electronic theft ring headed by a flashy businessman who sells stolen items in Nairobi’s Information House.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said a laptop stolen from KU was once sold at the shop and it caused trouble after the unsuspecting buyer was nabbed after he went with it to the university.