A total of 11 people have pleaded guilty to possessing banned plastic bags in Mombasa,

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The group – which included street vendors selling apples and sugar cane in plastic bags – were arrested two days ago following a raid by environment officials, the newspaper added.

Magistrate Martin Rabera let them go free, saying:

The court sympathises with you as you are first offenders. However, we are sending a strong warning to the accused and the public that as long as you continue breaking the law, we will be here for you.”

Prosecutor Jane Alango said :

Besides polluting the environment, the bags have killed many animals. People can use baskets and other containers in place of the bags.

Today these people should be used to set an example to those still using the banned bags.”

A ban on plastic carrier bags came into force in Kenya in August.

The law provides for a fine of up to $38,000 (£29,000) or a prison sentence of up to four years for anyone caught selling, manufacturing or carrying them.