Tanzania Charging Kenyan Fishermen With Robbery

  • An image of a fisherman
    A fisherman casting his net in Lake Victoria.
  • Six Kenyan fishermen arrested in Tanzania over alleged theft of fishing gear will go to trial today (Monday, August 30).

    The Tanzanian authorities picked the six following a scuffle over the ownership of fishing gear. The six will be arraigned to face robbery with violence charges.

    The fishermen were arrested on June 25 while on a fishing expedition in Lake Victoria. According to reports, a disagreement between them and their Tanzania counterparts erupted, forcing the Tanzanian police to swing into action.

    The six were arrested by Tanzanian authorities and taken to Sota Beach police in North Mara District after the verbal confrontation turned physical. They were later booked for robbery with violence.

    An image of boats
    Boats at the shore of Lake Victoria.

    The fishermen's goods were also confiscated, with their fishing gear and boats among the materials seized by the Tanzanian authorities.

    The Nation reports that attempts by the fishermen's relatives to secure their release have been unsuccessful.

    According to Kibro's Beach Management Unit chairman, Maulid Joel, who negotiated the release of the fishermen, efforts to negotiate with the Tanzanian authorities were futile as they (Tanzania police) took a hardliner stance, demanding huge sums of money.

    Maulid traveled to North Mara District to attend the court session and negotiate the release of the fishermen who have no legal representation.

    “We sent a delegation to try and negotiate the terms of the fishermen's release, but the Tanzanians demanded Ksh40,000 for every fisherman, an amount we were not in a position to raise,” stated Maulid.

    The fishermen’s relatives organized a fundraiser in Migori, raising Ksh120,000 to secure their release but the Tanzanian authorities said the amounts were still below the required amount.

    Nyatike Member of Parliament, Tom Odege, has condemned the Tanzanian government for the arrests of the six, saying that it is hard to ascertain boundaries at night and that in most cases, Tanzanian fishermen are the ones who stray into Kenyan waters.

    “The territorial boundaries in the lake are not clearly spelled out, and in most cases, it’s the Tanzanian security teams that end up straying into Kenyan waters.”

    “Fishing expeditions are often done in the night and it becomes hectic to ascertain the exact borderlines,” lamented Odege.

    A man carries an 80-kilogram Nile Perch caught in Lake Victoria.
    A man carries an 80-kilogram Nile Perch caught in Lake Victoria.
    violence arrest