Farmers living in fear as armed gangs steal their livestock

When a herd of cattle that had been stolen from Kamelei was returned to the owners. [File, Standard]

A group of residents in Trans Nzoia county has expressed concerns about the increasing number of livestock theft cases. Criminals are using crude weapons and chemicals to carry out these crimes.

The thefts have become a thriving business in the region as gangs employ aggressive methods to succeed in their nefarious missions.

Suspected thieves arm themselves with dangerous weapons and sulphuric acid, which they use against individuals who attempt to thwart their objectives.

The most recent victim of these theft cases is a village elder in Kibomet. William Keya, 75, who is from Bidii location in Kwanza' sub-county, is currently recovering from burn wounds inflicted by a gang that invaded his home and stole his dairy cow.

Keya was awakened by the commotion, and when he stepped out of his house to investigate, he was confronted by a  gang who splashed a corrosive substance on him.

The intruders then ordered him to go back inside the house and warned him not to raise an alarm. "When I went outside to see what the problem was, my dogs were barking. That's when they confronted me and poured a chemical on my hands, which caused itching, so I quickly retreated back to the house," Keya recounted, referring to the incident that occurred on Monday night.

Helplessly, he watched as the attackers drove away with his only cow, fearing for his life.

"The burns were severe, and I didn't have time to fight. It was a brutal attack that took me by surprise," Keya said.

Following the robbery, Keya was rushed to Kitale County Referral Hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment.

The incident occurred just a week after a gang raided the residence of Juma Siyio, who is the father of Trans Nzoia Women Representative, Ms. Lilian Chebet, and made off with a bull.

Prior to the theft at Siyio's home, his neighbour, Josaya Momanyi, had already experienced a loss of a dairy cow valued at Sh150,000.

In a similar incident, Assistant County Commissioner Julius Onyancha, based in Machakos, also fell victim to thieves who stole one of his cows. According to the residents of Kwanza, they have lost more than 20 cows in the past four months.

The residents are expressing their fear that these attacks carried out by thieves pose a serious threat to their lives.

Similar incidents have taken root in Kiminini sub-county where residents claim to have lost several herds in the past months.

Martin Simiyu Jamanuru, the MCA for Nabiswa, said the livestock theft has become a thriving business in the county and should be stopped.

Jamanuru linked the thefts to dishonest butchery operators in Kitale and Kiminini.