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Gang targeting schools, hotels and bars killed 13 in last one year

WESTERN
By Nathan Ochunge | August 11th 2021
Nancy Olukusi, the director of Mahiakalo Child Development Centre, points at one of the four offices broken into on Saturday. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

A terror gang operating in Kakamega County and its environs has killed at least 13 people in the last one year.

With the current 10pm to 4am curfew in place, sporadic attacks have been witnessed in the county, with the armed gang taking advantage to kill or maim people and break into schools.

Residents said the gang members are young men, usually armed with firearms, machetes and other crude weapons, and whenever they attack, they escape using saloon cars and motorcycles.

They mainly target primary and secondary schools, hotels, bars and restaurants.

Watchmen in some schools where break-ins and vandalism have been reported say some of the gang members have jungle uniforms similar to the ones donned by the police. 

Since mid-August last year, at least 13 people have been killed and 15 others injured, with over 20 hotels and bars broken into across Western.

Last weekend, the gang raided Mwiyala, St John’s Mahiakalo and Nyayo Tea Zone primary schools as well as Mahiakalo Child Development Centre, all in the outskirts of Kakamega town, and made away with valuables and cash.

At Mahiakalo Church of God Child Development Centre, the gang first attacked the security guard at around midnight. They then broke into the director’s office and three other offices and made away with electronic items and cash.

According to the guard, the gang escaped in a white saloon car that was waiting near the gate along the Kakamega-Webuye highway.

The centre’s director, Nancy Olukusi, said two laptops, two projectors, a sub-woofer, a Bluetooth rechargeable speaker, a camera, costumes, a metal box and Sh35,350 cash were stolen.

Director Nancy Olukusi. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The matter was reported at Lurambi Police Post.

“The total value of the items we lost is Sh383,355. This is a big blow to the centre given that we are just a charitable organisation giving hope to vulnerable children. When you steal from them, you are just making their life more difficult,” said Ms Olukusi.

She has faulted the police for not dusting the scene of crime for fingerprints.

“When we requested that the scene be secured, we were told to occupy our offices and continue working as police carried out investigations.”

Three padlocks

Barely 1.5km is Mwiyala Primary School, which was raided by the same gang last Friday at around 11.30pm. They accessed the school through the fence.

Headteacher Barack Were said yesterday the gang broke into his office and that of his deputy.

“They stole three padlocks because they could not find anything valuable,” said Mr Were.

“The security guard had already alerted the residents and fearing they would be nabbed, they escaped in a white saloon car,” he said.

The matter was also reported at Lurambi Police Post.

At St John’s Mahiakalo Primary School, the gang broke into the deputy head teacher’s office and stole Sh1,500 meant for the lunch programme.

“They were unable to gain entry into my office even after attempting to break the door. When the security guard got the opportunity to escape, he dashed to the nearby Lurambi Police Post to report the matter,” said George Mukholi, the school head teacher.

He said police responded immediately but missed the gang. “The swift action prevented the attackers from causing more destruction,” said Mr Mukholi.

Headteacher Barack Were. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

At Nyayo Tea Zone Primary School, the attackers charged towards the night guard who managed to escape.

Alali Osanya, the head teacher, said the attackers were brandishing crude weapons “according to our night guard.”

Mr Osanya said they broke into the deputy head teacher’s office and that of the senior teacher in the Saturday night incident.

“They stole a sack of maize and half a sack of beans and an unspecified amount of money the pupils had contributed for their lunch programme. They loaded them into a white car that was waiting at the gate and sped off,” he said.

He asked the police to intensify night patrols in the area to stop similar occurrences.

No arrests

On June 10, three security guards of Kivaywa High School in Matete Sub-county were killed in cold blood.

Edward Wanyama, 40, had a deep cut in the head, Henry Khaoya, 55, died after being hit with a blunt object on the head while Evans Wanyonyi, 56, sustained severe head injuries.

Police are yet to make public the outcome of their investigations into the killings and no arrests have been made so far.

Kakamega Central Sub-county Commander David Kabena said yesterday they are investigating the school break-ins and assured that the culprits would be brought to book.

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