Butere, Mumias villages have turned into hubs for cattle theft
It is a treacherous walk on slippery, muddy and bushy routes leading to Eshihaka, Eshibina and Mulambo villages in Butere and Mumias West constituencies, Kakamega County.
But the dangerous terrain and scary paths will not stop the more than 200 police officers from combing the remote villages.
Many homesteads across the villages do not have a single cow, a few villagers own at least a goat or one cow but will always keep them inside their homes at night or else they will be stolen. The three villages are the epicentre of cattle theft in the Western region and host the stolen herds from different parts of the country according to police sources.
The villages that border each other are separated by a river and an expansive valley within Siaya County.
It is said that cattle theft started way back in the 1960s and the vice has become part of the villagers’ culture and way of living. We traversed the three ‘deserted’ villages where locals fled upon receiving information about a planned raid by the police.
The officers could spot ‘lost cattle’ in some homesteads but there was no one to explain whether they belonged to them or were part of the stolen cattle.
In a few hours, they are slaughtered and their meat transported to various markets across Western.
The Nairobian established that each one of the three villages has their specific purpose and role, Eshihaka village in Butere constituency is the epicentre where the stolen cattle are slaughtered, packed in tuk-tuks and boda boda and transported to various destinations.
The village is considered the most dangerous in terms of retaliatory attacks whenever police make raids or arrest a suspected cattle thief.
Eshibina village in Mumias West constituency is a known hiding place for stolen herds. Thieves pitch tents there with stolen cattle while monitoring the situation before the animals are moved to Eshihaka for slaughter. Mulambo village, whose name means death, serves as the intelligence and coordination centre.
It is located along the Kakamega-Siaya road and has informers who keep updating the other two villages on the security situation and advise the criminals to escape when police plan a raid. The villages are a no-go zone. In 2021 two police officers investigating cattle theft were killed.
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On Saturday, a multi-agency team of 200 armed police officers led by Western Region Police Commander Kiprono Langat ambushed suspects and recovered 14 cows, six goats, two sheep, and an unquantified amount of meat kept in shallow gullies and inside houses. The officers managed to arrest nine suspects linked to the cattle theft.
According to Mumias West Sub-County Police Commander Steven Muoni, nine suspects are being held at Mumias West Police Station.
They were arrested after long police investigations and will soon be charged in court.
“We are experiencing rampant cases of cattle theft in the three areas and upon finalising our investigations under a multi-agency approach we recovered several heads of cattle,” said Muoni.
He said the areas are the epicentre of cattle theft, where stolen animals are disposed of before being taken to markets in the form of meat.
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