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Laikipia residents in fear as killings haunt town

RIFT VALLEY
By By JAMES MUNYEKI | September 17th 2013

By JAMES MUNYEKI

Laikipia County: It is some minutes past six in the evening and darkness has started beckoning. Herders are driving their cattle back to their sheds.

The roads are dotted with people returning to their homes from Marmanet trading centre. And businessmen in the busy trading centre are hastily closing down their premises in readiness to go back to their homes.

In this remote village of Laikipia County the business of the day normally ends at 7pm.

The early closures have been attributed to the cases of insecurity that have seen five people die in the last one month alone. During a recent case a 51-year-old woman and two men died under unclear circumstances.

For one family who lost their kin, they are yet to come to terms with last week’s incident where they lost their mother and the sole breadwinner.

Margrate Wanjira was walking home from the nearby Kwa Wanjiku area when she was accosted by a gang that is said to have raped her repeatedly before stabbing her to death.

Her body was found the following day by the roadside lying in a pool of blood.

To the residents the incident remains a mystery since only a mobile phone was stolen from the mother of five.

The deceased used to operate a shop in the area.

Second death

According to residents, this has been the norm for the better part of this year. “The gang does not steal anything from the people they kill and this is what happened to Wanjira. They even went to an extent of gang raping her before leaving her in a bush by the roadside,” says her sister Wairimu Kamwende.

She says they only woke up to find out that her sister had been killed from residents who visited their home the following morning. “We just thought that she had gone to visit some of our relatives but the sad news reached us in the morning. This was a second death that we had to grapple with as another relative had also died last month,” she says.

Three days later, a 39-year-old man was found dead along the Nyahururu-Rumuruti road at Marmanet area while two after that at Rimunga, a man was accosted by a gang and killed.

The latest incidents have caused residents to live in fear of attacks. “That is why we close our businesses as early as six in the evening. We do not know whether it is the same gang that is terrorising us or they are different people,” says Teresiah Muchangi who operates a shop at Marmanet.

According to Marmanet Ward Representative Francis Mukuria 13 mysterious deaths have been reported in the area this year alone.

Out of these, only two victims have seen their perpetrators arrested. “We are glad that the police have arrested two people in connection with the death of the elderly woman but the residents are still worried as two more deaths have been reported. This is a case that needs urgent intervention,” he says.

Reshuffle police

He blames the police who he says have not been willing to co-operate with residents in fighting crime. “It is our wish that immediate measures are taken to make sure that no more people lose their lives,” he notes.

He regrets that only four police officers are stationed at Marmanet police post to serve over 50,000 people.

Laikipia west MP Dr Wachira Karani has now demanded an overhaul of the entire police force in the area.

He says that most of them had exceeded the three years that they are supposed to serve in a particular station. “The officers have even started businesses here. That is why they have become used to the residents who no longer fear them. We even suspect that some of them might be engaging in criminal activities,” claims Karani.

However Laikipia West OCPD Francio Nyamatari and Nyahururu DC Lucy Mulili have refuted the claims saying police are collaborating with the residents.

“We have deployed more officers to curb the rising crime as we are not taking this lightly. We want to make sure that the residents operate their businesses safely,” says Mulili.

She observes that community policing projects have also been enhanced so that the residents can expose criminals to the public.

 

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