Residents protest over 'untouchable' criminals

Madungu Police Post in Ugunja, Siaya County. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

For more than one year, the family of Fredrick Halanga has not healed from his gruesome murder at his home in Ombonya village, Madungu sub-location.

The circumstances in which Halanga was killed on December 24, 2021, continue to compound their grief. The case remains unresolved to date.

In the neighbouring Luoka village in Siaya, suspected criminal gang burnt the house of a village elder on the night Halanga was killed.

Last year, a public address system worth Sh100,000 was stolen at Luoka ACK Church during a break-in. A suspect was apprehended but later released.

Not too far away, assistant chief of Madungu sub-location Stephen Ndonj and Assistant County Commissioner Sigomere division were assaulted by the suspected criminals. The case was reported at Sigomere Police Station.

According to residents and victims who spoke to The Standard, there is also rampant theft of livestock in the area. More than 10 cows, sheep, goats and chicken have been stolen in the villages in the last three months.

Madungu sub-location is now a village under siege by a criminal gang that targets churches, shops and businessmen. They kill and maim anyone who gets in their way.

Locals are so frightened that they cannot openly talk about the activities of the gang for fear of reprisal.

They say the gang of about 20 members is considered ‘untouchable’ and reports to Madungu and Sigomere police stations have failed to result in their arrest.

Philemon Oluoch’s phone was forcefully snatched and later recovered with a photo of suspected thief yet no arrest was made.

Another victim, Pascal Juma, lost items and Sh50,000 cash after the gang broke into his vehicle in his compound on December 12, 2023. The case was reported at Sigomere Police Station under OB 17/13/12/2023.

“Sadly, the main suspect was arrested but released under unclear circumstances,” claimed Juma, who added that the suspects always issue threats to people discussing the runaway insecurity and warning them of the dire consequences.

In a letter dated December 29, 2023, and addressed to the area Deputy County Commissioner, the angry residents asked the police to investigate the reported cases. 

The residents claimed that insecurity incidences in the area have affected them, and if not addressed, the criminal gang will grow and may ultimately terrorise the whole county.

Siaya County Police Commander Cleti Kimaiyo has reassured local residents that his officers will conduct operations to flush out the criminals.

He added that investigations into the reported cases are ongoing.