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Shock as more teenagers are caught up in crime

As Kenyans were waiting for the launch of BBI signatures collection drive, a tragic and bizarre thing happened in Kamuyu location, Machakos County.

A Class Eight pupil at Kaitha Primary School strangled her classmate to death in a suspected love triangle.

The girl who is currently in custody awaiting a mental assessment before being arraigned on Tuesday, allegedly undressed her victim to make it look like a rape after strangling her using a brown rope.

She then tucked the rope in an envelope before hiding it in a bush a few metres away from her parents’ home. The suspected murderer is 14, her victim was 15 and the boy in the middle of the love triangle 14.

“The suspect pointed out the murder weapon, a strong rope, brown in colour, which was about 150 metres away from the crime scene. The rope was hidden under dry thorny bushes after she used it to strangle the deceased,” said a police statement about the murder that has left the residents of Mwala in shock.

Committing crimes

A shocking as it is, what is of concern is not the just fact that a 14-year-old girl killed another because of a boy who was having a relationship with both of them. It is the fact that the incident happened when the whole country is witnessing a surge in incidents of minors committing crimes.

This week alone, police have arrested 105 teenagers while partying, smoking, drinking and engaging in sex orgies.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, records at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) show that 242 youth have been arrested in various towns engaging in such parties. Kisii, Homa Bay, Mararal, Nairobi, Kisumu, Webuye and Nairobi lead the country in having such parties.

And as if it not bad enough, the parties are taking place when everyone is supposed to be practising social distancing and the sale of alcohol and cigarettes is prohibited to anyone who is under 18.

What is giving law enforcement agencies sleepless nights is that there are adults luring and facilitating the youth to engage in such risky behaviours.

“It is unfortunate that such individuals are doing so not only in contravention of the law, but also ignoring the impact of their actions on the lives of minors,” said DCI George Kinoti.

“Anyone found guilty of an offence of child pornography and upon conviction will be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than six years or to a fine of not less than five hundred thousand shillings or both.”

Trafficking ring

Last weekend, Kenyans were shocked when seven teenage girls who had been reported missing by their parents in Komarock in Nairobi emerged from their hideout only to say they had been bored and sought to have some fun.

As detectives continue to pursue a suspected online trafficking ring dubbed Carty Gang, who they think lured the girls from their homes, the Sunday Nation has been told that the group usually hosts teen parties in Athi River or Obama Estate along Kangundo Road.

Teenagers are usually baited with images of previous parties on the group’s Instagram page, whose content has since been erased. The group, whose owners have not yet been found, has even offered a form of apology, which is the only thing remaining on the page.

“We would like to apologise to our fans for the inconveniences from the media,” says the group administrator.

The DCI insists it is only a matter of time before the owners of the group are arrested. The reality is that there are several adults operating alone or in groups facilitating minors to engage in vice. What is not known is how worse the situation can get.

Additionally, if you consider the number of youth who have been arrested since the beginning of the year for engaging in such risky behaviour then the problem shifts from just being a criminal matter to a moral one.

Gengetone genre

While reacting to degenerate behaviour of the youth, Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua blamed the content of today’s Kenyan pop music specifically the new Gengetone genre.

The genre, which emerged from the low-income areas of Nairobi, has in the last year become very popular among the youth with its explicit lyrics that promote promiscuity, partying, use of drugs and alcohol.

“We can’t afford to be neutral on moral issues and bad content. We can only help our youths by telling them the truth. If we fumble or become ambiguous we will confuse them. Deep down their hearts, they know they are doing wrong,” said Dr Mutua on his Twitter account.

“Artistes and the media must understand that they have the power to shape societal norms, values and character. They must behave responsibly and professionally.”

Dr Mutua who has on several occasions found himself on the wrong end for pushing for the pulling down of certain songs that he sees have crossed the red line may be right. Several studies have shown that the more importance youth place on a type of music, the more they pay attention to the lyrics.

In addition to the effect content aired by the media has on the youth, experts say the behaviour of adults also greatly influences how teenagers figure out what is wrong or right.

“The way we behave as a society plays a big role in moulding the character of children as they grow up. If for example, teenagers find crime or murder as the most prevalent thing around them, they accept it as normal and with time they start indulging in it,” says Dr Philomena Ndambuki of Kenyatta University.

“A person’s brain fully matures when they are 25. Before that what the person consumes from the adults around them will be given out as output,” she says.

The Machakos murder is not an isolated incident, continuing a trend, which peaked between 2018 and 2019 when hardly a month would pass before the country would be shocked with a riveting murder tale involving adults.

Three weeks ago, a 17-year-old boy stabbed a 20-year-old man during a fight over a woman at Ndiru Trading Centre in Rangwe, Homa Bay County, for allegedly sleeping with his wife. The encounter degenerated into a fight.

During the argument, the boy who was armed with a knife overpowered the man stabbing him twice on the back.

He then disappeared into the night and was arrested the next day from his parents’ house. Bunde can count himself lucky to be alive today after getting caught up in a love triangle with the 17-year-old boy with his wife.