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Security team uses students to preach peace to parents

By Renson Mnyamwezi | September 25th 2019

Students and their teachers have been roped into a peace campaign by political leaders in a bid to end clashes between villagers and herdsmen.

There has been violence in the past few weeks between Somali herders and the residents of Maungu village following deaths of two herders and a boda boda operator.

Marungu MCA Paul Kang’ethe and his Kasigau counterpart Abraham Juma said they had agreed with the Voi sub-county security committee to involve all residents in an initiative to find lasting peace.

The ward representatives, speaking in the county assembly yesterday, said some of the institutions involved in the peace plan were Kale, Marungu, Itinyi and Marasi primary schools, Marungu Secondary School and Marungu Vocational Training Centre.

“We are now using students to prevail upon their parents to embrace peace as well as maintain law and order. The students are instrumental to peace-building among the warring parties,” said Mr Kang’ethe.

The ward rep said the pupils, students and their teachers could have witnessed some of the attacks and killings.

Mr Juma said they had scheduled peace rallies in Marungu and Kasigau wards, which have been at the centre of conflict between the warring parties.

Somali elders

The legislators said five elders from the Duruma and Somali communities living in the affected area had joined pastors and Imams in the peace-building efforts.

The participants included officials from the Interior and Coordination ministry, and boda boda operators.

“We have all the relevant stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem before it gets out of hand. The peace rallies have been fruitful,” said Kang’ethe.

The MCAs pledged to conduct an interdenominational prayer service next week to cleanse the area.

The peace campaign comes barely a week after retaliatory attacks by villagers led to the herders' deaths at Majengo in Nyangala division. Scores were seriously injured in the attacks.

Villagers and police said the camel grazers from the north eastern region were the victims of mob justice, as tension remained high in affected area.

Voi Divisional Criminal Investigation Officer (DCIO) Samson Kimtum said four suspects had been arraigned, but were not allowed to plead to charges because investigation into the killings had not been completed. “The court gave us four days to complete investigations,” the DCIO told The Standard.

Residents and leaders, however, accused police of applying the law selectively.

“When the herders kill our people or their animals invade our farms and destroy our crops, no action is taken against them. But when we retaliate, our people are arrested, harassed and charged. We demand that the law enforcement officers provide a level ground for all,” one villager protested.

Mr Kimtum confirmed that peace rallies had started in Majengo, Zaire and Maungu areas in Nyangala division, adding that they were being presided over by Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Joseph Lewa.

“The DCC is better placed to tell you more about the rallies that started last Friday,” said Kimtum.

Mr Lewa, addressing a baraza at the Maungu chief's camp, said the Government had deployed additional security agents to the region and warned that anybody found breaking the law would be arrested.

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