KenyagistPicketing is good but looting must be condemned

Picketing is good but looting must be condemned


For many Kenyans; the last fortnight has been underscored with anxiety caused by the ongoing protests by the Gen Zs who are expressing their dissatisfaction towards the leadership under the hashtag— ‘RejectTheFinanceBill’.

To the business community, it has been two weeks of pain. The first-ever protests organised by the citizens in Kenya against their leadership, had no designated leader, no political affiliation and no tribe.

From the onset, it was deemed a good cause to remind a government hellbent on going rogue against the basic wishes of the citizens.

It was all good until goons saw an opportunity and infiltrated the protesters. The agony of the goons ended at the business premises among other places. This even as some businesses closed their doors. losses that have followed are yet to be summed up.

A day after the president declined to sign the Finance Bill, Gen Z still took to the street, this time; about of rage pumped up by the loss of lives from police bullets. The call changed from ‘Reject the Finance Bill’ to ‘Ruto must go.”

I am in Kangemi, some fifteen kilometres from the CBD which is deemed as the heartbeat of the battlefield.

Observing the tense mood in the people as they watch the running battle between the police and the youth from a distance, the youth are baiting the police with different forms of provocation. The observers are waiting apprehensively to see the response of the police.

Among the multitudes of observers, I am wondering what the police are. I am shown their location, which is outside a supermarket. An hour earlier, the goons had attempted to break in leaving a few windows shattered. This is not the first incident of attempted theft in shops and supermarkets as every time we have “maandamano,” losses happen.

The police are caught at a crossroads when it comes to protecting the protesters as they are infiltrated by the goons. Its hard to differentiate a peaceful protester from someone with ulterior motives.

As we observe, a conversation on looting begins as Rachel, a bystander by my side, proclaims that if the goons were to succeed in breaking into the shops, it would be a good opportunity for her to fill the house with a month’s shopping.

I am exasperated only to be met with a ‘kwani iko nini attitude’. The conversation continues as an observation of the priorities of different genders emerges. This ends in a conclusion that in the context of the loot, women only take needs and men steal household wants.

Either way, these reasons should never be used to justify stealing. IT IS A CRIME.

This leaves me wondering… is stealing from your local supermarket a way of punishing the government? Is this your way of showing the government that these are tough times or are you simply letting out your rotten morals that have never found a platform for expression? Are perpetrators taking advantage of the situation to commit unnecessary crimes?

On the other side of the pandemonium, Emily; a shop owner, narrates how previous demonstrations left her broke and in debt,

 “I had closed shop but I had two soda fridges all stocked up, they broke them and took away a soda supply worth Sh150,000. I had to get a loan because I had not insured my shop,” Emily said.

This is he untold reality from these service providers that the perpetrators have never had a keen interest in knowing.

Most businesses are initiated through loans or savings that take a while to achieve so any theft of even half of the stock will put most businesses on their deathbed.

The situation is no different in the Nairobi CBD. Michael, a shoe seller in the capital shares his tribulations. He has been worried sick that though he closed his shop during the protests, the thieves masquerading as agitators broke in and took the stock he only shelved a few days before.

His woes were shared by Rachael, a supermarket employee. Any form of burglary in the supermarket where she works would render her jobless.

These highlight the struggle that comes with any form of disruption of peace. The effect goes beyond what is seen as catastrophic where most of the media coverage ends.

These social amenities that become prime targets of criminals in the protests are owned by the common citizens who employ others who depend on these businesses to fend for their families. So yes, it’s wrong to steal and loot people’s businesses for whatever reason.

As Kenyan law pronounces itself clearly on theft and destruction of property through Section 339(1) of the Penal Code, any thief disguised as a protestant who shall be caught will have their pay behind bars as shall be determined by the law.

Given that we live in a technology era, business people and dependents can only hope that CCTV cameras situated in different places in the country will help the long arm of the law to bring to book the suspects caught looting.

Lastly, peaceful demonstrations involve raising placards with a message of peace, anything else that disrupts law, order and peace must be avoided.

Source: theStars
Original writer: CAROLINE WAMBERE


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