Alarm as gang terrorises residents, torches houses in Seme

Kennedy Odhiambo Otieno and Sheila Akinyi Oburu's home. They were attacked and brutally murdered. [Courtesy]

Panic has gripped residents of West Seme in Kisumu following the emergence of a gang that has been issuing ultimatums to families to give them valuables or face arson attacks.

In the last three weeks, at least three homes have been torched by the gang, killing a couple and destroying property.

Residents said the gang has been dropping leaflets at targeted homes with a two-week ultimatum to avail money and other valuables.

Last week, a couple, Kennedy Odhiambo Otieno and Sheila Akinyi Oburu, were attacked and brutally murdered after their house was set on fire at night in Alungo South Sublocation in West Seme.

This is after the gang warned them of dire consequences if they fail to heed the demands.

The woman was burnt beyond recognition while the man managed to escape from the burning house but succumbed to injuries while receiving treatment at Kombewa Sub-County Hospital.

The couple's six-month-old baby sustained serious injuries and is admitted to hospital.

Odhiambo's mother, Consolata Odundo Otieno, is devastated by the attack.

"My son managed to escape but his wife and the baby were trapped inside the house. The wife was screaming for help but the fire was fierce and soon engulfed the house. My son later died in the hospital. The child is still undergoing treatment at Kombewa Hospital," she said.

The terror that was meted out to her son and his family has left her living in fear.

"In many cases, they usually demand money. I still don't know why they killed them," Odundo said.

Prior to the incident, the gang had torched a house belonging to a widow, Sharon Akinyi Odhiambo who is a resident of Alungo.

The gang had issued a notice to Akinyi demanding Sh50,000 failure to which they would torch her two-bedroom semi-permanent house.

Fearing for her life, she opted to leave the house along with her children and sought refuge at a friend's home. 

The suspects, who Akinyi believes were monitoring her movements torched her house after the lapse of the 14-day ultimatum.

"I am empty-handed. I have no house now. I was living in the house with my ten children, I don't know where I'm going to take them after my house was burnt down, I have nothing more to say," she said.

The residents said they have been forced to form a vigilante group to conduct night patrols. They accused police of laxity as the wave of crime got out of hand.

Lackson Owade, an elder, said the situation was worrying.

"We want security to be enhanced. The police, chiefs, and nyumba kumi officials should work together and enhance patrols, especially at night," Owade said.

On Tuesday, residents staged protests to demand action from the government over the rising cases of insecurity in the area. 

Seme Sub-County Police Commandant Hellen Rotich was reluctant to comment on the matter which she termed sensitive.

Ms Rotich however revealed that a team of detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation in Kisumu have been dispatched to the area and are conducting investigations to bring the suspects to book.

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