New Matungu gang attacks leave deaths and injuries

Residents of Mirere village in Matungu Sub-county at the trading centre where two watchmen were killed on Wednesday night. [Brian Kisanji, Standard]

A criminal gang struck Matungu Sub-county in Kakamega, killing two guards at a local trading centre.

One suspected gang member was lynched by an angry mob. The police said they had also shot and injured a suspected attacker during the Wednesday night incident.

The night guards were identified as Michael Opata and Jared Opondo. They met their deaths as they attempted to stop their attackers from driving away cows they had stolen from a home at Mirere village.

The victims’ eyes were gouged out and tongues cut. Their bodies had multiple cuts.

Residents only woke up yesterday morning to find the bodies in a pool of blood at the shopping centre before they alerted the police.

Night guard

Opondo’s mother, Julia Khavere, said her son who also worked as a boda boda rider left home at 6pm on Wednesday for work.

He had worked as a night guard at the market for two years while Opata had worked there for the last 15 years, residents said.

The bodies were collected by the police and taken to St Mary’s Hospital Mortuary in Mumias.

County police commander Bernard Muli and his Criminal Investigations counterpart Peter Kimulwa arrived at the scene as soon as residents reported the killings.

Muli said they had established the stolen cattle belonged to one Peter Machio, a resident of Mirere.

On the same night, residents of Bumula B village in the neighbouring Butula Sub-county lynched a suspected criminal after he allegedly attempted to attack them with an axe.

Five cows

Residents said they confronted the suspect after they found him with five cows they claimed he had stolen from Mirere village.

They said they tried to stop him but he defied and instead tried to attack them. The mob overpowered and killed him on the spot.

Five national identity cards belonging to different people and two ATM cards were recovered from the suspect.

The police have linked the two incidents. They believe the man lynched at Butula is a member of the gang that murdered the two watchmen in Matungu.

“We had received reports of cows that had been stolen is several areas. We have reasons to believe these attacks are being perpetuated by the same criminal gang. They must be the same people who killed the two watchmen,” said Muli.

Police officers on patrol are also said to have quashed an attempted robbery at the same shopping centre in Matungu on the same night, where they shot and injured one suspect.

The owner of the premises the gang planned to rob alerted the police when he realised they were drilling through the wall of his shop in the 3am incident.

The officers engaged the criminals in a shootout before injuring one while his accomplices fled. The injured suspect was taken to Bungoma County Referral Hospital.

Yesterday, Muli met shaken residents and assured them of government commitment to ensure their safety and punish the criminals.

“We have a new team of security that will ensure you are safe together with your property. We urge the residents to work with our officers to bring peace in the region,” said Muli.

A machete-wielding gang left the villagers in fear early this year after they killed 18 people.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i visited the area after the killings and ordered deployment of the General Service Unit to crash criminal elements.

More police officers were deployed to the region and several commanders transferred.

This happened two days after police at Matungu arrested a notorious gang leader at Emakale village on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Busia, an armed gunman shot one person dead as two others sustained serious injuries.

The deceased was a business woman from Nambweke on the border of Busia and Siaya.

The attacker was part of a gang that made away with Sh50,000.

Agenga Nanguba MCA Evans Barasa called on police to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book.

County Commissioner Jacob Narengo appealed to locals to volunteer information to help arrest the criminals.