Nyumba Kumi elders threaten to quit over death threats

At least 100 village elders in Likoni have vowed to quit their roles in fostering peace and reconciliation after they allegedly received death threats.

The elders, under the Nyumba Kumi Initiative, said unknown people had been sending them threat text messages on their mobile phones.

The Nyumba Kumi Initiative was introduced by Government to complement the community policing initiative that requires each person to ensure his/her safety and that of neighbours. The strategy requires citizens to know their neighbours and what they do for a living.

Last week, suspected arsonists attacked the home of one of the elders, Bakari Gandi from Bofu, during which his 60-year-old wife was killed. The assailants are yet to be arrested.

The attackers are said to have locked the house from outside before setting it ablaze.

Gandi sustained burns in his head, hands, abdomen and back. Four other members of his family escaped unhurt.

Kibwana Barani, 70, an elder from Mbogoyani village, is the latest to receive death threats through his mobile phone.

The author of the purported text threatened to eliminate 65 village elders in Likoni.

Death threats

Yesterday, Barani said he received the death threats through a text message sent to his phone on January 28.

Barani said he asked his son to call the sender and find out the motive of the message but calls went unanswered.

Barani said he reported the matter to the police. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations has vowed to trace the author.

Yesterday, The Standard caught up with some of the elders at Bomani grounds, where they had met to decide the way forward.

“My colleague is nursing serious injuries. We are not taking the matter lightly after all of us received death threats. Actually, some of us have been forced to leave their homes for fear of attacks,” said Barani.

He added: “I have also minimised my movements. Even going for prayers has become tricky. I don’t feel a free man anymore. They want to harm us, only God knows why. We have not done anything wrong.”

Hamisi Saidi Chamosi, another elder from Bofu, asked police to expedite investigations into the matter and guarantee their safety.

“We play very important roles in the community. We are mediators whenever there is a dispute and in most cases, it has ended well. We also call on the police to enhance patrols in Likoni and deal with those threatening us,” said Chamosi.

Area Deputy County Commissioner Erick Wamulevu assured the elders of their safety.

According to investigations, Wamulevu said, the text messages were traced to Shimo La Tewa Prison and were sent to instill fear in the people.

“Our village elders are safe. We recognise their efforts in peace building and we assure them they have nothing to worry about. We have asked them to ignore the text messages,” said Mr Wamulevu.