Erick Otieno Orengo is a well-known figure in Kisumu’s Manyatta slums.
His mischievous characters began to manifest early in life.
While learning at Kosawo Primary School, Otieno had numerous disciplinary cases.
At Standard Five, Otieno enrolled himself at the neighbouring Manyatta Primary School, while still a pupil at Kosawo.
When caught up in a disciplinary case one school, he would jump to the next school and proceed with studies.
His schooling was on and off, and he had to complete Standard Eight at the age of 18.
It was while in Standard Eight that a childhood friend introduced him to crime.
The friend introduced him to robbery with violence through firearms.
Becoming hardcore criminal
Kisumu became too small for them, and they moved to Nairobi.
“In Nairobi, we settled in Athi river. We robbed motorists and pedestrians, and would kill anyone who resisted,” he narrated.
Life in crime was a taste of both sweet and sore.
We formed a gang of six. We stayed together in a two bed roomed house for easy coordination of our plansErick Otieno
Freedom was a nightmare since they were in police wanted list. Movement was very limited as they would stay indoors during the day thus had no much to spend on, save for alcohol and women.
“We formed a gang of six. We stayed together in a two bed roomed house for easy coordination of our plans,” he says.
One day, during one of their robbery missions, they carjacked and robbed a young man of Sh270,000.
The turning point
They were cornered by a mob that killed some, while others were left with severe injuries, including Otieno.
He returned to Kisumu in 2007, and joined political goons, working for politicians.
He was one of the people who were arrested and charged with pelting President William Ruto’s motorcade in the build up to the 2022 general election.
“We are out on a Sh500 bond,” he said.
Otieno says he has since left crime, and is working as a taxi driver.
Peter Omondi Owuor blames poverty and parenting to his woes.
Politics was something I ate and drunk. It was part of me. I have committed crimes; some still haunt me to date because of politics. I was in the police radar and never enjoyed freedomPeter Omondi
Being brought up with only his grandmother, he claims he lacked a lot and learnt to fend for himself at a very tender age.
“My uncle who was a soldier from Kenya Army used to train me on self-defence wherever he was home. This helped me advance easily when I went to Mombasa,” he says.
In Mombasa, he joined Kongowea hall for boxing training and that was the link to political alignment.
His life in politics exposed him to crime, and when life became unbearable, he retreated to Kisumu in 1998.
He pursued a Mechanical Engineering course which he completed after two years and joined employment in Kisumu’s jua kali.
But even when in employment, he could not completely abandon politics.
“Politics was something I ate and drunk. It was part of me. I have committed crimes; some still haunt me to date because of politics. I was in the police radar and never enjoyed freedom,” he says.
After the 2013 general election, Omondi abandoned politics and crime.
“I got fed up with the kind of life I was living. I discovered that I gave out a lot including my life but received nothing in return,” he said.
The 46-year-old is currently running his small businesses for survival.
Bonface Otieno Oriaro, Nyanza Regional Coordinator for Community Policing says there is need for harmonious working relationship between police and the community.
“When the community engage directly with the police through various informal activities, they develop that good rapport enabling them to relate freely with the police,” he said.
He says poverty and unemployment have greatly pushed youths into crimes.
He urged the government to revive industries in the Nyanza region to create job opportunities.
“Obunga informal settlement had been known as a habitat for goons. We brought sanity here through use of dialogue,” he said.
He added: “We created resource centres where youths and adults engaged freely on issues of combating violent extremism.”
Apostle Dr Washington Ogonyo Ngede said crime rate in Kisumu has been increasing recently, with some resulting into killings.
The Power of Jesus Around The World leader urged the government to work closely with the church in mentoring the youth into productivity through counseling.
“On this, I blame parents on poor parenting and the church for laxity. Parents have become too busy to check on their children discipline while the church has turned into sugar coating issues affecting the youths,” he said.
Youths need to be engaged through work and family as soon as possible. Once a man starts earning something, he needs to have a family. This will keep him busy and away from crimeSheikh Omar Suleiman Julu
Ngede’s sentiments are supported by Sheikh Omar Suleiman Julu who puts blame on poor parenting in the various cases of extremism.
“Youths need to be engaged through work and family as soon as possible. Once a man starts earning something, he needs to have a family. This will keep him busy and away from crime,” he says.
Lawyer Stephen Oguna says they have been working closely with the community in enhancing peace and cohesion within the community.
Oguna who works with Keeping Alive Societies Hope (KASH) said; “We work with both the police and the community to promote dialogue and information sharing.”