71 youths who were among 99 people arrested at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Recruit Training School (RTS) a week ago have pleaded guilty to two charges of forgery of calling letters.
The accused pleaded guilty to the charges before Eldoret Principal Magistrate Naomi Wairimu on Monday.
The court imprisoned them to serve a sentence of six months with an alternative fine of Sh20,000 each.
However, 28 others who denied the charges were each released on Sh30,000 cash bail or Sh100,000 bond.
The prosecution told the court that the accused were arrested at Eldoret RTS on January 26, 2020 as they reported with fake letters of admission purporting to be genuine KDF calling letters.
On the first count, each charge sheet stated that on unknown dates at unknown place within Kenya they jointly with others not before court with intent to deceive made KDF calling letters purporting that the same was issued by the army.
The second count stated that they all uttered fake KDF calling letters to colonel P. Koech at RTS on January 26.
Hearing of the case against those who denied the charges will be on February 24.
Meanwhile, a civil society group from Eldoret has written to the Ministry of Defence demanding that it investigates the rampant cases of fake calling letters to join the military.
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRD) executive officer Kipkorir Ng’etich said cases of forgery of military admission letters have increased and thus warrant a probe.
Addressing journalists outside Eldoret Law Courts where the accused had pleaded guilty, Mr Ng’etich speculated that the conmen may be connected to elements within the forces.
“For the last four years our office has been receiving complaints from people who have been conned by conmen who seem to be well connected with the military department as some of them use military vehicles during their dirty mission,” he said.
He cited a scenario where an Eldoret businessman was conned over Sh750,000 by someone in full military uniform.
Mr Ng’etich has also petitioned the National Assembly committee on Security to intervene.
“We are proposing KDF outsources an independent body to be recruiting those joining RTS,” he added.
Last year 108 recruits were arrested with fake calling letters, while in 2017 nearly 135 suspects were arrested while this year 99 suspects were arraigned in court with fake KDF calling letters.
Many of the youths interviewed admitted to have parted with substantial amounts of money to get their letters.
Their sentiments were echoed by a parent from Elgeyo-Marakwet |County who said that he sold land so that his grandson gets employment in the force.
“My grandson is among the affected youths, I sold my parcel of land at Sh350,000 to secure for him a place in military,” said the man who prefered not to be named.
“I have lost my land, my son is now going to be jailed for a crime he did not commit. The government must intervene and save innocent Kenyans,” he added.