What you need to know:
- At Litare Beach in Mbita Sub-county of Homa Bay, several fishermen have netted bombs.
- The latest incident happened on August 3, 2021 to a group of five fishermen.
It’s every fisherman’s dream to dock on the beach at dawn with the largest catch. The heavier the catch, the bigger the wallet.
But with reduced supply of fish from Lake Victoria due to competition and decline in breeding, many have to work harder and spend more time in the lake searching for the delicacy.
Strange things have been happening lately. Instead of catching fish, some fishermen have been netting bombs.
Some of the fishing nets haul heavy metallic boxes that contain explosives believed to have been used by German and British soldiers during the scramble for East Africa between 1884 and 1895.
At Litare Beach in Mbita Sub-county of Homa Bay, several fishermen have netted bombs. The latest incident happened on August 3 to a group of five fishermen.
As their vessel sailed across the lake at 2am, their net suddenly became heavy. They became excited at the thought that they had caught a giant fish but Alas! They were wrong.
“We usually go fishing at night and it’s a tough job. On that night, we all thought of how we would make good money at dawn after selling the fish,” says Wycliffe Omondi, the coxswain.
In excitement, they all joined hands to pull the net up to the boat. Mr Omondi also abandoned his duties to help his colleagues who were struggling to pull the net out of the water.
They were, however, surprised when they discovered that their energy had been wasted on a heavy metallic box.
“It was leaking brown water due to the effects of the rust on the surface of the metal. It was my first time seeing such a thing,” says Mr Omondi.
In a bid to discover what was contained in the box, they hastily broke it and found six, 60-millimeter mortar bombs. They were shocked by their discovery.
Mr Joshua Otieno, one of the fishermen, says he had heard about bombs being found in the lake, but this was his first time to come across them.
As they gazed at the bombs, they feared for the worst and two of them jumped into the hippo-infested waters.
The other three steered the boat ashore and reported the incident to the Beach Management Unit chairman Isaiah Ochieng’, who alerted Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) officers in Mbita.
The police rushed to the beach, collected the bombs and called their colleagues from the bomb disposal unit in Kisumu.
Mr Ochieng’ says fishermen have netted bombs on three different occasions this year. Six bombs were netted by another group in February.
“I am always the first person to be contacted when fishermen net bombs. We’ve instructed them to bring ashore all foreign materials they find so as not to get into the wrong hands,” he says.
The two men who jumped into the water were rescued at Rabuor Island.
Mbita DCI boss Philip Sang has instructed fishermen to be careful whenever they come across ammunitions and explosives.
“Fishermen are required to report the cases immediately so that we can neutralise the threat. They have been informed to always keep the devices away from the public until authorities arrive,” he says.
Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan says bombs the bombs are usually taken for ballistic analysis.