Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kithure Kindiki on Tuesday came face to face with runaway insecurity that has for long dogged parts of Kitui county.
While addressing a high-powered security meeting at Mandongoi area in Mwingi North in the company of Kitui top security officers, Kindiki was shocked when armed suspected camel herders shot in the air several times, a few kilometres from the meeting point.
Locals attending the meeting panicked with some attempting to flee but the CS calmed them down.
Kindiki had just ordered the forceful removal of all camel herders grazing within Kitui county when the bloodthirsty criminals blasted the air with their powerful guns.
Some interpreted this to be a mock gesture from the armed herders at the security meeting.
The gunshots could be heard kilometres away. "Nimeskia nimeskia. Wacha wapige tu, si mimi niko hapa, Wacha wapige (I have heard. Let them continue firing. I am here, let them continue shooting," the CS said.
Kindiki issued an order to the security team to remove all camel herders grazing within Kitui county immediately.
At the same time, the CS authorized the recruitment of 250 National Police Reservists (NPR) for Kitui County to bolster police services in enhancing security.
The CS noted that the camel herders from North Eastern Kenya and Tana River counties had caused a lot of havoc in Kitui County, leading to the death of several people.
The latest to be killed is a 50-year-old man from Mandongoi who was killed five days ago by suspected herders.
Kindiki also ordered Kitui County Commissioner and the entire security team to ensure that his order was implemented to the letter.
“I want to know how many police officers are needed to implement that order. Those camel herders must leave Kitui county immediately. We are not going to have a discussion with criminals,” a visibly angry Kindiki charged as soon as the gunfire died down.
He noted that the herders who are believed to be heavily armed with illegal guns can only graze within Kitui county with express permission from locals. If the locals do not feel safe in their presence, then they have to leave, he stated.
“These people have for a very long time operated with impunity. This now must come to an end. Everybody must obey the law,” he said during a meeting also attended by Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua and area MP Paul Nzengu.
And the CS dared the criminals who have caused untold suffering to sections of Kitui county residents and elsewhere in the country to try him.
“I want to challenge the criminals to bring their best weapons. Let them bring their best skills. There is no way criminals will compete with the government,” Kindiki charged.
The CS also ordered the forceful removal of all illegal herders hiding in Mwingi North and Kitui South national game reserves.
“All the camels and illegal herders within those areas must be removed. I am ordering all herders from outside Kitui county to return to their homes," he said.
Kindiki urged police officers to operate within the law while implementing his orders, saying that the government will defend them as they execute their mandate.
He said he will be back in Kitui county to launch the NPR officers to bolster security in the volatile region. Kindiki also promised the completion of a local police station at Mandongoi and the posting of more police officers in the region.