A Senator and an MP have condemned the punitive fines slapped on petty offenders saying that this should be reviewed to save thousands of poor people in custody.
According to Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika and Gilgil Mp Martha Wangari, the fine was to blame for congestion in the country’s penal institutions.
This came as the two legislators moved in to raise funds for over 40 hawkers who are incarcerated in Naivasha prison after failing to raise Sh40, 000 fine.
The hawkers who include women were arrested last week at the Gilgil weighbridge for hawking and pleaded guilty to the charges but could not raise the fine slapped on them by the court.
Speaking during a fundraiser to help pay the fines in Gilgil town, Wangari, said the fines for petty offenders were hefty and many would not afford them hence the increase in the number of inmates.
Wangari said time had come for the review of some of the laws so as to allow those committing simple crimes are given a lenient sentence that they could pay and go home.
While condemning the latest incidence, Wangari blamed Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) for the predicaments currently being faced by the hawkers.
She said it was wrong for the authority to use force to evict hawkers who have been selling their products at the weighbridge without interfering with traffic.
“We were not consulted as leaders but KeNHA decided to use police to not only arrest the innocent hawkers but to burn their properties in broad day light”.
A visibly angry Wangari said it was a shame for a government agency to evict women, children and lactating mothers for simply doing their work to fend for their families.
“These people were beaten by police who lobbed teargas canisters to them and one would think they were terrorists going by the manner in which the force was used”.
On her part, Kihika said for many years scores of young people and mothers had made a living hawking at the Gilgil weighbridge.
She said it was wrong for a government voted by the people to start harassing them just for making a living on selling their merchandise along the highway.
“They don’t disrupt traffic, they don’t steal from anyone and they don’t force anyone to buy, all they do is earn an honest living considering unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing our country”.
She termed as ‘inhuman’ and ‘beyond belief’ that the court gave bonds to the hawkers amounts running up to Ksh 40,000 each adding that none of the hawkers some of whom are lactating mothers and others on medication could come up with the money.
Gilgil town MCA Jane Ngugi narrated how KeNHA in the company of police called the hawkers to a meeting and when they gathered, police began beating them with many sustaining injuries.