Porous Kenya-Uganda border cause of insecurity in Mt Elgon

Village elder Edward Matep (left) from Maseck village whose two children were killed narrates to the Governor of Bungoma Wycliffe Wangamati and member of parliament of Mt. Elgon Fred Kapondi how the attack took place. [Duncan Ocholla, Standard]

Frequent attacks in Mt Elgon have been blamed on the porous border with Uganda that has made smuggling of weapons easy.

Criminals are taking advantage of the situation to bring in guns used in the attacks that have seen many killed and others maimed. Locals accused the police of doing nothing as criminals roam villages. 

“The criminals easily get guns from across the border. They also use the forest to carry out their criminal activities,” said Edward Matep, whose two children were shot dead in an attack.

Matep also accused the police of allowing the attackers to compromise them.

“The police have failed to secure the region and are instead working with the criminals.” 

“Police officers don’t respond whenever there is an attack and when they do, they free criminals without charging them because they are compromised. That is why residents have been forced to take the law in their own hand at times to lynch suspected criminals and their associates,” said Matep. 

He added: “The criminals are armed with guns, machetes and other crude weapons. They are merciless. They don’t spare anyone. I feel so much pain after losing my children.”

Reports indicate that at least ten people have been killed in attacks in Mt Elgon within the past one month.

Demand money

The criminals demand money. Woe unto you if you don’t have the cash! You will be maimed or even killed.

Frequents attacks have now sparked off fears that remnants of of the dreaded Sabaot Land Defense Forces (SLDF) are regrouping.

The group that was crashed in a large scale military assault in 2008, when its leader Wycliffe Matwakei was killed, was known for murder, torture, rape among other crimes. Its resurgence started after differences over land. 

Another resident, Kibet Tutei, is still coming to terms with the recent murder of his elder brother Isaac Tutei, who was killed alongside his friend Kibet Muyei.

“Those people are dangerously armed. They sprayed our house with bullets, killing my brother and his friend in the process,” said Tutei. 

One of the bullets caught Tutei and badly wounded him. He spend two weeks in hospital after he was shot in the waist. He is now recuperating at home.

“It was a painful experience. Getting this massive injury and losing my brother has not been easy. I hope I will get over all this soon,” said Tutei.

But Mt Elgon MP, Fred Kapondi, denied claims SLDF militia was regrouping. 

He accused the police of not doing their job. “The attacks are masterminded by criminal elements know to security agencies. These attacks must be stopped,” said Kapondi.

The MP said two brothers, known to locals and the police, were coordinating the attacks. “The only solution is to apprehend the brothers and bring them to justice.”

He added: “The criminals called my aide and threatened him. They even said they would take action against me. They vowed to ensure I do not implement projects I have initiated. I am challenging them to face me instead of hurting innocent citizens.”

Kapondi accused local police commanders of colluding with criminals. He said some of the officers were leaking information to the gang.

Collecting bribes

“Two senior police officers are colluding with criminals after collecting bribes from them,” he said and called for deployment of police reservists to deal with the gang.

Western Regional Commissioner Mongo Chimwaga urged residents to volunteer information that will lead to the arrest of the criminals. 

Chimwaga who spoke at Masaek market warned residents against harbouring criminals or withholding information on their activities. 

“We are urging the public to give us information and don’t fear. We are determined to crush the gang,” he said.

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