Samburu killing fields as 72 people dead in four months

Samburu residents protest against banditry. They are living at the mercy of bandits. [Michael Saitoti, Standard]

Banditry and cattle rustling in the North Rift counties are not a new phenomenon. 

The attacks staged by suspected bandits from neighbouring communities have left a trail of destruction, deaths, thousands of livestock stolen and displaced hundreds of families. 

In Samburu County, such attacks have left 200 people dead in less than a year, families displaced and hundreds of livestock stolen. 

The vice has left communities living in Porro, Lobongare, Losuk, Malaso, Suguta, and Angata Nanyokie in Samburu West constituency desperate. 

Their leaders are also in despair while the government talks tough with little results. This is the situation facing many residents of Samburu West constituency, victims of recent bandit attacks that have left over 72 people dead in just four months. 

In Angata Nanyokie ward, area MCA Paul Leshimpiro is the latest casualty. His death and that of three other people, including a two-year-old boy, who were shot by bandits at the weekend, has caused uproar among leaders and their electorate. 

On Monday, Maa leaders led by Governors Joseph Ole Lenku (Kajiado), Patrick Ole Ntutu (Narok) and Samburu’s Lati Lelelit led a protest in Maralal town. 

The leaders led more than 2,000 protestors to Samburu County Commissioner’s office, where they presented their grievances. 

As they presented their petition, the pain, feeling of numbness and despair were written all over their faces. 

Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, who read the names of 72 people killed in her constituency, broke down in tears. “As I read this statement here, there is a body of a National Police Reservist, killed by bandits while herding livestock, still at the scene,” she said. 

Lesuuda narrated how the slain MCA was seeking the help of security personnel to accompany the family of the deceased to bring the body home for burial. 

“He wanted the Kenya Defence Forces removed from the area because they were not being helpful,” said the lawmaker. 

Governor Lati told of his frustration trying to seek intervention from senior government officials to help end the frequent attacks on his people by bandits. 

“I have been in every office of top security personnel, but nothing has been done to save the lives of my people. I even appealed to the Inspector General of Police to help flush out bandits, but in vain,” he said. 

Lati claimed the senior government security officers were feeding President William Ruto with false information that Suguta Valley is inaccessible. 

“If the government is willing, it can end this madness within one hour. But none is willing to do that,” Lati claimed.

His Kajiado counterpart, Joseph Ole Lenku, said it was disheartening when 72 people were killed, and the government could not even issue condolences. 

“As Maa people, we cannot accept our people to be killed for no reason. It is the role of the government to protect its people and property,” Lenku said. 

Governor Ntutu said the attacks were no longer about cattle rustling but land. “As Maa leaders, we cannot accept an inch of land to be taken away from Samburu people,” he said, adding that the government must stop the killings. 

He said the government was well aware of the agenda of those attacking people in Samburu West, and the state must act. 

“As we gather here to present our grievances to authorities, four bodies, including that of an MCA, are lying in the mortuary. We have come here to see if the government can take action. We know it is our neighbours who are killing our people in their land,” Ntutu said. 

Samburu Woman Rep Pauline Lenguris said several people have been displaced from their homes in villages along the border. 

“Many families have moved away from their homes. They are even afraid of cultivating their farms. Their children cannot go to school, our development programs have stalled. This is injustice," she said. 

Samburu North MP Eli Letipila said even Interior Cabinet Secretary Kindiki Kithure has not been helpful. 

“We have been forwarding him information about the security situation in Samburu, but he has not been helpful. We have even visited his office, but nothing is being done,” he said. 

The leaders said they were worried that the Samburu community could be staring at extinction given the never-ending killing of young men and children, as the older population continues ageing and dying.  

Letipila said soon, there will be no young men in the community if something is not done urgently.  

Meanwhile, members of the Samburu County Assembly led by their Speaker, Steve Lemarle, have claimed their lives were in danger. 

This follows the killing of their colleague Paul Leshimpiro by bandits last Sunday. 

They claimed that the bandits from the neighbouring community had changed tack from cattle rustling to targeting local leaders in a bid to instil fear in the residents and make them vacate the land.

Lemarle said his members now require protection from the government and asked to be allocated a bodyguard each.