Banditry cost me an illustrious career at KDF, says former soldier

Former KDF officer Richard Koech during an interview at Kapindasum Primary School in Baringo County on ‎October ‎17, ‎2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Lightning never strikes the same place twice is a myth many African communities believe in.

This, however, is not the case as Richard Koech says, it not only struck him but camped in his home.

Koech, a father of seven, is a victim of banditry and insecurity, having lost all his wealth in two raids in the years 2012 and 2016.

The former Kenya Defence Force soldier said bandits raided his village while he was on duty in May 2012 and drove away his 200 goats at Katilomwo village in Arabal Baringo County. He said elders followed up and not even a single goat was recovered.

In 2016, bandits staged another attack and drove away 180 cows. This time, he  couldn’t bear the loss and he travelled home from Nairobi in an effort to trace his livestock which was his source of livelihood.

Koech joined the military in 1997. The 2016 incident he said marked the beginning of his misfortunes. In 2017 he said he was relieved of his duties. His last day of paid service according to a dismissal letter dated August 3, 2021, was August 16, 2021.

“Bandits raided our village while I was on duty, I received a call informing me of the raid and the loss. I informed my bosses of the misfortune and requested for an off duty as I wanted to go follow up,” he said.

He said his bosses were reluctant at first and told him to inform the chiefs and other security personnel back at home but he insisted that he wanted to go home as his family had also been displaced and children separated from their mother. He said he was allowed to go home after a week. His efforts to trace his cows bore no fruit.

Koech extended his one week off duty by two days and had to call the office and inform them of the challenges he was facing. He said he got a one-day extension to trace his children.

Poor network coverage and a place to charge his phone he said made it hard for him to communicate on time with his bosses. The nearby centre with a power connection he said was 40 kilometres to and fro. “Luckily, I found them and moved them to Marigat. I had to make sure they were settled,” he said.

Koech said although he went back to work, he was a bit disturbed. He sought another one-week leave again but it didn’t auger well with his bosses. 

To Koech, his plea to continue with his work fell on deaf ears. His bosses couldn’t believe him and he had to call the area chief and an elder to speak to convince his superiors.

“I was told it seems you are struggling so much, it’s better relieve you so that you can stay with your children. I had to call the area chief and elder to speak to them.” 

Life offered him lemons and he had to make lemonade. He has had to cope with the situation and blend with the community. 

He lives at Chemorongion centre where he has turned to charcoal burning to fend for his family. He also survives on doing menial jobs to earn a living.

When The Standard visited his home, he couldn’t be traced until late in the evening. He said he had joined his friends at a nearby thicket for a casual job.

On a lucky day, Koech earns Sh100 from casual jobs. The charcoal business he said earns him Sh2,000 a week.

Koech is a trained officer with skills in combat medic, counter-IED, and jungle warfare among others.

The Standard
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