More than 150 sellers of coconut palm wine, popularly known as mnazi, yesterday protested against police harassment at Mbuzi Wengi in Malindi district.
The women accused police of raiding their pubs and arresting them for no reason. The traders said the officers pour hundreds of litres of palm wine whenever they raid their bars.
The traders marched from Mbuzi Wengi to Malindi police station. They said they depend on the wine to buy food and pay school fees for their children. Miriam Tabu said the officers recently poured more than 120 litres of mnazi when they raided the area at the weekend.
Addressing journalists in the town, Tabu said they have incurred huge losses from the "inhuman behavior of the police". and could no longer tolerate it.
"Whenever the officers raid these dens they don't spare anybody including our liquor. This makes our life so difficult," she said. The Government gave out rules and time for operating the clubs and drinking dens from 5pm to 11 pm.
However the palm wine sellers claim security personnel usually raided them during the time of business which was not right. Riziki Chengo another woman with a palwine drinking den was arrested over the weekend and her liquor poured by the officers during an operation done on Saturday night.
The angry women later held a meeting with the Area officer Commanding Station in Malindi (OCS) who referred them to the Kenya Coconut Board which is mandated to follow up the matter.
The board officials are expected to have a meeting with the women today and look for a permanent resolution to the problem. Many families in Malindi and the larger Kilifi county and Coast region depend on the coconut palm wine for a living.