Over 70,000 police officers will as from today evening, Friday, March 27, 2020, will be deployed across the country to ensure members of the public remain within the confines of their homes from 7 p.m to 5 a.m.
This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, ordered a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew in an effort to curb further spread of the Covid-19 virus.
National Police Service spokesperson Charles Owino warned that anyone caught violating the curfew directive would attract a 3-month jail sentence.
However, this would be served once the Coronavirus pandemic is contained.
On Thursday, March 26, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i gazetted the curfew, which made the order officially legal, pending implementation.
“Under this order, there shall be no public gatherings, processions or movements either alone or as a group for the period of the curfew,” the notice read in part.
President Kenyatta declared the curfew after he announced an increment in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, which has since risen to 31 as of March 26, 2020, with one, a 66-year-old man who was hospitalised at Aga Khan Hospital succumbing to the virus on the same date.
Owino reiterated that there were adequate police officers in the country to enforce the curfew, noting that Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai had on Friday, March 20, 2020, recalled all police officers who were on leave.
“The inspector General last week recalled all police officers who were on leave and with the curfew, we have enough numbers of police officers who will be moving around the country to ensure that Kenyans remain indoors in the hours directed and also provide security,” Owino stated.
Drawn from both the regular and administration arms of the police, there are over 120,000 officers with over 50 per cent expected to be deployed.
On March 26, IG Mutyambai warned police officers not to make petty arrests, stating that it was against the national directive to decongest cells. He further, warned that disciplinary action would be taken against defiant officers.
“The behaviour is against the government directive for maintenance of minimal contact between individuals and social distancing to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in the criminal justice sector. Disciplinary action will be taken against such OCS. In addition, the county commanders in whose jurisdiction such cases fall will be held personally responsible for abdicating their supervisory duty,” Mutyambai stated.
The persons arrested would be released on bail or free bonds in line with a directive by Chief Justice David Maraga and presented in court at a later date. Owino stated that punishment of the offence would be guided by Section 8(6) of the Public Order Act.
“Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of a curfew order or any of the terms or conditions of a permit granted to him under subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of any offence and liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh 1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment, the Act states.
Owino, however, stated that the officers would be considerate of pressing cases requiring people to be out at the time of the curfew.
“Officers have the discretion to decide the action to take. The curfew does not mean that members of the public who have, for example, sick relatives cannot take them to hospital,” Owino stated.