KENYA:It was an embarrassing scene as the police seized alcohol, marijuana and miraa (khat) from the students. Condoms were strewn all over the underground discotheque.
The arrests come two months after 40 other secondary school students were arrested on a bus in Nyeri, using drugs and engaging in seâ€™x.
Police said among those arrested were university and college students who prey on young girls
Scores of Eldoret residents, mainly parents and relatives, on Monday thronged the divisional police headquarters to secure the release of 550 students.
Police had arrested the students in a swoop on Sunday night in a basement club called Samâ€™s Discotheque.
It was an embarrassing scene as the police seized alcohol, marijuana and miraa (khat) from the students. Condoms were strewn all over the underground discotheque.
Ironically, the underground discotheque is exactly opposite the police headquarters, barely 50 metres away.
SEâ€™X ON A BUS
The arrests come two months after 40 other secondary school students were arrested on a bus in Nyeri using drugs and engaging in seâ€™x.
There was drama for the better part of the morning in Eldoret Town on Monday as parents agonisingly picked up their children from the police station.
Those apprehended were aged between 12 and 18 years. Some of the students were from as far away as Kitale and Kapsabet.
Police said among those arrested were university and college students who prey on young girls.
There were 150 girls in the group that was arrested.
Mrs Jane Rotich was among the parents at the police station on Monday, rounding up her 16-year-old daughter who had lied to her parents that she was going to a choir practice.
â€śHow could you do this to me, after doing expensive shopping (for you) and you go out with me under my watch?â€ť she lamented as she slapped her daughter several times in anger at the police stationâ€™s gate.
Another parent, Mr Henry Sugut, calmly held his chin as he scanned the faces of the hundreds of children arrested, looking for his son.
â€śHe left home at around 2pm, after seeking my consent to do some shopping for school. I am very much upset. How can I toil, wear one pair of shoes, while these fools here spend my money with girls!â€ť he lamented.
Eldoret West Deputy OCPD Samson Rukunga said the underage students were arrested and kept at the police station for security purposes, since they were underage and should otherwise have been under the protection of their parents.
â€śWe got them in a bad state and because they are young, we put them in police cars and kept them in our watch until daybreak, that is when they could be safe to go,â€ť he said.
No charges were preferred on the underage truant students, but 70 of the group, who are 18 years and above, face legal action.
Mr Rukunga confirmed that condoms, alcohol and marijuana were found in the studentsâ€™ pockets, raising worries about the magnitude of the studentsâ€™ truancy.
Mr Armstrong Rono, the director of the Uasin Gishu County Alcoholic Drinks Control Board, said Samâ€™s Discotheque was operating without a licence.
Mr Rono said the club was denied a licence because it did not meet safety regulations, among them being dark and being an underground space.
â€śIt is very important to note that this club is operating illegally, without a licence. It did not meet the requirements for licensing.â€ť
â€śIt is among basement clubs that are supposed to have been shut but a case in court stopped us,â€ť Mr Rono said on Sunday evening.
Mr Boniface Beta, another very angry parent, accused the police of shielding the club and aiding childrenâ€™s moral decadence.
â€śThe owner of the club is untouchable. Let the truth be told, this club is about 30 metres from the main police station.â€ť
â€śSo many children come here, especially when school closes and police have always kept off from acting on calls by stakeholders to regulate this,â€ť Mr Beta said.
The court stopped Uasin Gishu Countyâ€™s security committee from implementing the closure of businesses operating on basement and underground spaces.
Police raided Zion Mallâ€™s basement shops in May and found young children watching poâ€™rnographic movies.
Police had also ordered the closure of the shops but the directive was challenged in court.
Last year, parents and the business community won a case to stop an Eldoret club, Sleek Lounge, from engaging in striâ€™p shows.
Mr Beta urged police to close down Samâ€™s Discotheque by Friday or the community would forcefully do so.
A 2014 study by a non-governmental organisation, I Choose Life Africa, says 36 per cent of male and 10 per cent of female students in Kenyan secondary schools were actively engaging in seâ€™x.
â€śThe average age of seâ€™xual debut was 12.4 years,â€ť said the report, released in Eldoret last year.
It also revealed that boys engaged in seâ€™x with their age-mates, while girls have their first encounter with older boys.
Unfortunately, the study says, only 33 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls reported using condoms in their first seâ€™xual encounter:
â€śAbout one in 10 students who have had seâ€™x did not know whether a condom had been used. A similar pattern is seen for condom use at last seâ€™x.â€ť
Another parent, Mrs Pamela Kilimo, said modern parents are pampering their children with money and that is largely contributing to erosion of morals in the young generation.
â€śIt is our making. Parents are now turning these children into adults. Our children have a lot of money nowadays and they can easily fund any form of bad behaviour.â€ť
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