Father in coma after teacher son shot dead by bandits in Baringo

The family of primary school teacher, Kemboi Simotwo, who was shot dead by armed criminals a week ago while herding livestock. His father, Stanley Simotwo went into coma upon learning about his son's demise.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

A family in Kobot, Kinyach, in the Kerio Valley has suffered double tragedy after their father went into coma when his son, a primary school teacher, was shot dead by armed bandits suspected to be from neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Stanley Simotwo, 58, is fighting for his life at Baringo County Referral Hospital in Kabarnet, after his son Kemboi Simotwo, 26, who was a tutor at Kinyach Primary School, was shot dead while herding livestock a week ago.

The deceased had just recently graduated as a P1 teacher at Baringo Teachers Training College, Seretunin.

The attackers shot at the teacher before driving away cows that belonged to six families. The teacher was with a few children when they were ambushed by the gun-wielding criminals.

Reuben Ruto, a resident, said gunshots rent the air for hours as dozens of raiders surrounded the grazing field.

Body riddled with bullets

Locals later found the body of the teacher riddled with more than 10 bullets. The children were set free by the attackers.

The armed criminals drove away hundreds of livestock towards Tot in Marakwet East.

According to family members, when news reached the old man that his son had been killed, he collapsed and went into a coma.

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo (in black cap) when he toured Kobot village, Kerio Valley on May 8, 2022 to condole with a family whose kin, a primary school teacher was killed in a banditry attack a week ago.

Photo credit: Florah Koech | Nation Media Group

Dorcas Mayano, a sister of the slain teacher, said they were still coming to terms with what had befallen their brother when their father went into a coma.

She said the tutor, who taught at the neighbouring Kinyach Primary, normally went home on weekends to relieve the herder who normally grazes their livestock.

“On that fateful day he was accompanied by children from the neighbourhood,” said Mr Mayano.

“When our father received the news that his son had been killed by bandits and our livestock driven away, he fainted and went into a coma. He is still in the same state in hospital in Kabarnet, where he is recuperating,” she said.

Locals flee villages

Due to heightened tension and fears of more attacks, locals have fled the village to safer areas, forcing the affected family to make burial arrangements away from home.

“The bandits are still roaming the village and we are not safe here. With other villagers, we have pitched camp at the police station for our safety. We only come here when we have visitors, albeit shortly,” said the family member.

Two days ago, armed criminals attacked local leaders, including former governor Benjamin Cheboi and Baringo North UDA parliamentary nominee Joseph Makilap, who had both toured the area to condole with the affected family.

The tour was cut short and the leaders fled from the criminals, who were shooting at them indiscriminately. They reached a safer area unhurt.

Attacked several times

Ezekiel Chepkete, a local, said the family has lost livestock several times to armed criminals from the neighbouring community.

“Over the years, this family has been raided by bandits more than three times, with hundreds of livestock driven away without a trace,” he said.

“The recent incident was a big blow to the family because the teacher was a breadwinner. Sadly, we didn’t recover the herd.”

He wondered why the Marakwet community was now turning on the Tugen, who have been good neighbours and coexisted peacefully for years.

“We do not know where the bad blood between us and the Marakwet community originated because we have coexisted well for years. We have never crossed their land to steal from them and we wonder why they are doing so. We no longer live in our houses for fear of more attacks,” Mr Chepkete said.

The recent attacks have forced hundreds of locals to flee from their homes, resulting in the closure of four schools: Kobot, Kinyach, Chemintany primary schools and Kinyach Secondary.

Leaders silent

Locals say leaders from the neighbouring community had not condemned the attack, adding that this could worsen the animosity between the two communities.

The killing of the teacher brought to 31 the number of people shot dead by armed criminals in the county since the beginning of the year, with scores of others nursing gunshot injuries.