Act decisive to stop banditry and cattle rustling

Residents of Arabal on Wednesday during a meeting with the county security team who toured the area.

It should prick the conscience of every Kenyan that there are parts of the country where violence, cattle rustling and banditry have been accepted as a way of life. Elected leaders, community leaders and administrators should be even more concerned that in this day and age, there are pockets of the country where sanctity of human life means nothing.

You would expect that 59 years after independence, decades spent in school educating citizens with several successive governments in place, armed bandits have taken control of parts of the country. They terrorize residents with ease, killing them at will and driving away their livestock. Previously, security agents have made unsuccessful attempts to flush out bandits.

On Friday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’I met with leaders from West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and parts of the Rift Valley over persistent bandit attacks. This followed a recent spate of bandit attacks that have left 10 people dead.

Over 15 schools have been closed due to insecurity. This has put into jeopardy the education of hundreds of children, who are now vulnerable and can easily be recruited into the fighting group. It is unfortunate that some prominent politicians have been linked to bandit attacks, where some recruit youth to steal livestock on their behalf and sell them for beef in major towns. So lucrative is this illegal trade that some leaders have made a career out these clashes.

But what should ordinary Kenyans do when no other than CS Matiang’I admits that some senior leaders use government vehicles to distribute bullets and arms to the bandits? In whose hands are they safe? The armed bandits or the security agents now being mobilized for another operation?

The CS ordered immediate recruitment of additional National Police Reservists to beef up security in the affected areas. While this is welcome, for how long with wananchi fear for their lives and livestock? The government must seek a lasting solution especially in regions where banditry has almost become the order of the day.

That said, the real culprits must be brought to book. Using intelligence and information from residents, the perpetrators of cattle theft should be arrested no matter their status in society. Some may have risen through the political ladder into powerful positions. But for how long will they hold people at ransom and continue unleashing misery on poor Kenyans.

Still, as we approach the August 9 General Election, security agents must step up vigilance, map out potential violence hotspots and take decisive actions. Those found to be planning violence on their opponents should be barred from contesting any political seat.

The cultural leaders administering oaths to bandits in their evil mission should also be named and shamed. The modern world rarely places physical strength over education and brainpower.   

 

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