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Murder most foul: Robbers kill Church watchman in Kisumu

By Harold Odhiambo | Published Mon, March 20th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 20th 2017 at 09:19 GMT +3
Gerry Kraakman, a priest at Nanga catholic church shows church elders where his watchman was hacked to death by armed robbers at the church compound on March 19,2017 morning. The robbers then gained entry to the cleric's house by breaking back door and stole a fridge. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

A watchman was killed as he tried to stop thieves from robbing the Catholic church and priest he was guarding.

George Omondi, 47, was slashed several times on the head and neck by the robbers during the attack at Nanga Catholic Church near Nyalenda slums in Kisumu.

The father-of-five, who has guarded the church since 2008, tried to prevent the robbers from going to the priest's house and paid with his life. He was overpowered by the killers, who went ahead to break into Father George Kraakman's house.

Witnesses said the priest was overcome with grief when he found Omondi bleeding. The watchman died as he was being rushed to hospital. The robbers stole a fully stocked refrigerator from Father Kraakman's house. They also broke into the church, but it was not immediately clear what they stole from there.

Yesterday's Mass was delayed for hours as Fr Kraakman spoke to journalists and police officers who had visited the scene.

Omondi's widow, Perez Awino, said she received news of her husband's death from her brother-in-law and immediately went to the church compound.

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"I found Father (Priest) but he was crying and could not immediately tell me what had happened. Later, he told me that my husband's body was at the mortuary. I was taken to the scene and there was a pool of blood. I went to the place my husband usually sat and found the food he had carried from home still there, untouched," she said.

Awino said her husband often did menial jobs at the end of his shift to make ends meet.

The priest said the robbers did not attack him.

They gained access to the compound by cutting a fence.

Kraakman, a Dutchman who came to Kenya in 1968, told The Standard that he woke up after hearing strange noises in the kitchen.

"When I went to the kitchen, I found the door wide open and the fridge, which had been placed next to the door, missing," he said.

He walked out of the house in search of the watchman and even called out his name several times but there was no answer.

"When I reached the building housing the church, I found him lying in a pool of blood with deep cuts on his head and neck," he recalled.

Omondi and he were only people in the church compound.

"I called some church members and we rushed him to Kisumu District Hospital, only for him to be pronounced dead," said Kraakman.

Joseph Ndadi, an elder, faulted the police for failing to beef up security in the area, which he said had become crime-prone.

"Security has been a very big issue in this area. Every night there is an attack but so far we have not heard of any suspect being apprehended," he said, adding that robbers were taking advantage of the lack of security lights.

"After sunset, it difficult to walk outside and some of the thugs also break into houses," he said.