Chaos erupted in Rumuruti town, Laikipia County today after pastoralists reportedly released their livestock into private farms.
The groups hurled stones at each other and lit bonfires on the roads before the police moved in and restored order in the town in Laikipia West constituency.
The protests came just days after a police operation to flush out illegal herders from Ol Moran and nearby ranches and conservancies was launched. It followed two months of attacks that left eight people dead and many others displaced from their homes.
Rumuruti Township MCA Joseph Suge said Marura village was the most affected as the area is inhabited by both farmers and pastoralist communities.
“The government should intervene to ensure the rights of all communities in this area are preserved. We also don’t want to see our people losing their sources of livelihood. We also don’t want to witness this kind of clashes in this area, they are very destructive,” he said.
Fredrick Njuguna, a member of the Rumuruti business community, said they have incurred heavy losses over the past two weeks due to rising tension in the area.
“For two weeks, the farmers have not been able to harvest their crops. Transport business is also grounded,” said Njuguna.
The clashes are said to have started after farmers detained herds of cattle they had found in their properties.
“The farmers only released the cattle after the police intervened. After a while, the herders attacked some of the residents who had detained their animals leading to the clashes. The attackers are well-known people to us and we are asking the police to take action against them,” said Njuguna.
One of the victims sustained deep cuts was taken to Rumuruti sub-county hospital.
A bodaboda rider narrowly escaped death after the herders blocked his way and tried to attack him using machetes. He fled but his attackers burnt his motorcycle.
Charles Mbatiah, accused the police of not doing enough to calm the situation even after the clashes were reported to them.
He said the police and local administrators refused to intervene as their farms were being invaded.
“We are surprised that the police are using live bullets on protesters and doing nothing to stop the invasion of our farms. We demand equal treatment and protection from the government,” said Mbatiah.
Gathua Gichuru said: “The government must not turn a blind eye on the invasion and clashes being witnessed in Rumuruti. The situation may get worse and that is why we are asking the government to step in.”
“Is the government waiting for people to be killed and displaced as was the case in Wangwaci and Ol Moran for them to act?”
Laikipia West Deputy County Commissioner Hezron Nyaberi who led an operation to quell the chaos assured the residents that the government would ensure the issues raised are adequately addressed.
“The government has the duty to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Whoever has invaded private property must be evicted. We will not allow the insecurity in other parts of Laikipia to spill over here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Laikipia West Sub County Director of Education Josephine Thuranira said many students have reported back to school in Ol Moran and Githiga. Most schools had been closed due to skirmishes that erupted after herders invaded private ranches and conservancies.
Later, the government directed that schools must be reopened starting Monday after the violence that left at least 400 families displaced.
“Today, we have seen a remarkable increase in the number of children reporting back to school. The report we are getting is that nearly 80 per cent of learners are back in class. The remaining few are likely to be from families that fled to far areas,” said Thuranira.
Ms Thuranira assured parents that their children would safe in school. Police officers and National Police Reservists have been deployed to guard the schools.
Laikipia county commissioner Daniel Nyameti said they will continue guarding schools. Teachers and learners will also be accompanied by police to and from school until the situation is fully restored, he said.
Governor Ndiritu Muriithi noted that some of the residents have started moving back to their homes even as the county and national governments continue to coordinate the construction of 29 houses for families whose homes were razed down.
Kakamega Woman Kills Husband Over Co-wife, Solar Panel
A Kakamega woman has admitted to murdering her husband after he disconnected their solar panel from her house and fitting it in her co-wife house.
Before the High Court in Kakamega, Joy Trizar Shitubi pleaded guilty to the charge of man-slaughtering her husband on October 26, 2017 at Emachoni village.
“I stabbed my husband Joseph Waboko Mbayi on the material date without malice aforethought,” said Shitubi who had entered a plea bargain deal with the prosecution to plead guilty for manslaughter instead of the more serious murder charge.
Narrating her ordinance, Shitubi explained she was preparing food for dinner when her husband, Mbayi came and disconnected the solar panel from her house and took it to the first wife’s house.
According to her, her husband later returned back and grabbed her by the neck and started strangling her when she protested against the action of snatching the solar panel from her and could not reveal where its charger was.
“I struggled to come out of the strangling but he hit me in the face and tried to grab the knife I was using to peel tomatoes from my hand,” she said. “Amidst the struggle I unfortunately happened to stab him with the knife in the chest fatally injuring him.”
Meanwhile, the sister to Mbayi, Ester, who witnessed the incident claims that her brother was provoked to start the fight when her sister-in-law could not reveal where she had kept the charger to the solar panel.
She confirmed that her brother hit Joy on the face with a fist and a struggle ensued between them leading to the fatal stab. The first wife said Mbayi went to her co-wife’s house and disconnected the solar plate that had initially been installed in her house. She added that after her husband returned the solar panel back to her house and went back to Shitubi’s house to collect the charger.
“I later heard screams of a child coming from the house and when I went, I found our husband lying on the floor with blood coming from his chest,” she said.
When cop Jael Kwamboka, from Mahondo Administration Police Post arrested Shitubi as Mbayi was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. According to autopsy report, the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest.
CS George Magoha Asks School Heads Not To Chase Away Students With Arrears
George Magoh, the Education Cabinet Secretary has urged school headmasters not sack students from school due to school fees arrears.
According to Magoh, before Friday government will drop the school capitation.
The Education Cabinet Secretary speaking at Kisii yesterday said no student will be sent home due to lack of school fees.
Mr George Magoh addressed a gathering at the launch of junior secondary school classrooms phase two at Kereri Girls.
“We are all sailing in the same boat where we are struggling with harsh economic times. The price of basic commodities has gone high and this affects all of us, even at the family level,” he said.
Mr Magoh made an appeal to school headmasters to use available resources to make sure that students remain in school.
“We have school feeding programmes in day schools, let us support those critical cases stay in school. We must admit the students to school and give parents an opportunity to pay school fees. Those of us who have already cleared paying fees for our children have gone an extra mile to pay fees for other needy cases, which is a welcome move,” he said.
According to him, the capitation programme changed because of the affected school calendar. “President Uhuru and my ministry will work extra hard to ensure that we have released the funds on time,” he said.
Magoha assured that government will soon finish the building of 10,000 junior secondary school classrooms on time.
“We will deliver the classrooms before we leave the office. No money that belongs to our children will go to waste,” he said.
A further 5,000 classrooms will be constructed. He warned private developers who have grabbed land belonging to schools.