A watchman was Sunday dawn clobbered to death by an armed gang in an attempt to steal coffee beans at Kiangai in Kirinyaga County.
During the abortive 1.15am violent robbery at Ruiru coffee factory, three other watchmen escaped from the marauding robbers who were armed with crude weapons.
They cornered Michael Maina Wamai, 39, by camouflaging their actions in darkness at the time of the attack amid chilly wet weather prevailing in the area.
According to the area Assistant Chief Musa Muriuki, the assailants escaped into the nearby thicket after the three other guards raised an alarm just as they attempted to break into the main store. Muriuki said he reported the incident to his immediate boss, the Kirinyaga West Sub-County Deputy Commissioner Samuel Mwati.
Sunday, Mwati said police visited the scene immediately and collected the watchman's body which they later transferred to the nearby Karatina Hospital mortuary.
"Were it not that the guards were keeping watch from four different locations within the factory premises, the robbers would have killed all of them, but thank God this did not happen," Mwati said.
A farmer from the area, Jorum Wairi, said the commodity has become so valuable that thieves are even stealing it from the drying tables in the factories.
“I'm sure some unscrupulous millers have a hand in these rampant theft incidents after farmers rejected them and chose to approach others who do not double as millers and marketers of the commodity to reduce exploitation,” Wairi said.
Such thefts have frequently occurred in the neighbuoring Mathira Constituency of Nyeri County and the vice now seems to be shifting to Kirinyaga County.
Sunday, Wairi warned that those involved in the stealing of the coffee parchment while it is being dried or stored in factories will be dealt with ruthlessly if caught.
“We are putting these armed coffee thieves on notice that their days are numbered as stringent security measures are now in place and once any attempt is made, no escaping our dragnet,” he warned.