Bandits targeting us, Baringo chief says

Joseph Chemitei

Sibilo Location chief Joseph Chemitei speaks to the media on March 25,2024.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • On March 13, Loruk assistant chief Samuel Kamuren lost more than 187 goats.
  • Five days later, bandits staged another attack and made away with 133 goats. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Sibilo Chief Joseph Chemitei, 60, was called to give details of the recent spate of bandit attacks in his location.

He had attended a food distribution exercise meant for victims of banditry in Koibaware village, which was graced by East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza, Baringo Woman Rep Florence Jematia, Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap and other local leaders.

Mr Chemitei painfully narrated how he has also borne the brunt of the perennial insecurity after losing his livelihood to raiders.

According to the administrator, on February 29, dozens of armed criminals descended on his Kiboino village some minutes after 8am and attacked several herders who were driving thousands of animals to the Katemburion grazing fields.

“They ... shot at the herders indiscriminately before driving away more than 1,129 animals. Among the stolen livestock were my 126 goats and 60 cows. I lost everything, just like that,” said Mr Chemitei. “My two sons who were among the herders narrowly escaped death as they run for safety amid a hail of bullets.”

According to the chief, several security officers deployed in the area had gone to Marigat town to provide escort to mourners and family members taking the body of slain Kagir Primary School head teacher Thomas Kibet for burial in Kagir village.

Fear of their lives

There was therefore no one to repulse the attackers. Since the attacks started early this year, he said, more than 8,000 goats have been stolen in his location alone.

“Following the incessant raids, locals here, including my own family, have fled to other villages for fear of their lives. Almost all my entire location with three sub-locations has been left deserted. I cook for myself after being left behind to take care of the house and the chickens that were left behind,” said the chief while fighting back tears.

“I only have two months to my retirement and sadly, all I had toiled for over the years has just been wiped out by armed criminals, leaving me a pauper. How will I rise up in the two months?” he said, adding that the bandits were targeting chiefs in the area.

“Several chiefs in Baringo North have borne the brunt of these attacks and the government should move with speed to tame the vice,” said Mr Chemitei.

On the night of February 26, three days before Mr Chemitei’s goats were stolen, armed criminals raided Yatya chief Jackson Keitany’s homestead and shot his two sons aged 14 and 17 years before driving away an unknown number of goats.

Runaway insecurity

On March 13, Loruk assistant chief Samuel Kamuren lost more than 187 goats after attackers raided Chebirirebei, Naiben, Kipsebeiwa and Chemorongyon villages. They also made away with more than 927 goats belonging to more than 15 families.

Five days later, bandits staged an attack a few meters from Tuluk assistant chief Daniel Kiptui’s Rormoch home and made away with 133 goats. 

“My herder was driving the livestock home from the grazing fields at 5pm when more than 10 bandits emerged from the bushes and fired shots before driving away the livestock. I am yet to come to terms of losing my entire livelihood ... I have more than four children in secondary and I do not know where I will get their school fees,” said Mr Kiptui.

Ms Malonza said more than 10,000 locals have been displaced by the runaway insecurity in Baringo North. To address the problem, she said the government has set up more than six new police posts in the area.

“The government has deployed several security officers in the villages and more than six new police posts have also been set up. As the government heightens its efforts to bring sanity in the troubled areas, we appeal to the neighbouring communities to co-exist peacefully,” she said.

She added: “Plans are also underway to establish feedlots in the affected communities so that we can mitigate against scramble for limited resources like water and pasture especially during dry spell. We have to come up with a resilient programme to settle the affected communities.”