Isiolo residents protest rising crime

Isiolo town

An aerial view of Isiolo town where cases of robbery have been on the rise in the recent past. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu

Bulapesa and Wabera ward residents in Isiolo County have raised concern over a surge in night robbery and burglary that have left a number of people injured.

Properties worth thousands of shillings have also been stolen in the last two weeks.

The attacks, that victims say, are perpetrated by a group of armed youths, leaving residents living in fear with businessmen forced to close their shops as early as 8 pm to escape the wrath of the criminals.

Kulamawe, Kambi ya Juu and Mater in Bulapesa and Isiolo town and Chechelesi in Wabera are some of the affected areas.

A County staff was robbed of personal effects by armed men in Chechelesi.

Earlier this week, a man was attacked near Kiracha while on his way home in Kambi ya Juu.

“They were about six men. Two of them were at the front and the rest behind me. They surrounded me and ordered me to hand over all that I had which I obliged though they beat me up,” the victim said, adding that he lost his two mobile phones to the gang.

A liquor business in the area had days earlier been broken into and entire stock stolen, leaving the trader counting losses.

Some of the traders in Kwa Franco and Poolman also reported being victims of burglary with electronics and gas cylinders among the items the criminals' target.

“We are worried because cases of break-ins had reduced but due to the rising cases, we have to close shops as early as 8 pm so that we are not attacked while on our way home,” one of the traders said.

A number of shop owners have installed CCTV cameras for surveillance while others have introduced padlocks fitted with alarm.

A man was injured days ago in a fight with criminals at County area with the gang walking away with some household items and electronics from his house.

“The criminals were armed with rungus (clubs) and pangas. The man engaged them in a fight but got injured allowing them to escape,” one of the neighbours said.

A businessman was last Thursday shot on his left thigh by a gang that confronted him while driving into his home at Lions in Red Cross area.

The man was in the company of his daughter who he had picked hours earlier from school when the attackers confronted him.

It is after the daughter got out of the car to open the gate that the group of four men, who had parked a motorbike in the area drew closer and ordered the man to get out of the car.

“The girl heard the men demanding money from the father and rushed into the house and informed the mother who then started screaming,” a family member told the Nation.Africa.

Bulapesa Isiolo

Parts of Kulamawe in Bulapesa ward, Isiolo County that have been affected by rising robbery and burglary cases.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu Nation Media Group

The criminals had first threatened him with a knife but on insisting that he too had one and was not afraid of them, they shot him before walking away with car keys and Sh2000 that he had in his pocket.

At the same time, residents revealed, another group terrorized in the neighbourhood.

With no one to rush him to hospital and with most of residents having panicked following the gun shots, the victim rode himself to nearby Matercare hospital where the bullet lodged in his body was later removed.

A gang of eight robbers was recently repulsed by National Police Reservists while attempting to rob residents in LMD, Burat ward.

County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding on Thursday revealed that a special police unit had been formed to deal with a notorious gang called 14 brothers that is blamed for the recent incidents in Isiolo’s Central Business District.

“They would rather reform and shun the crime because we will ruthlessly deal with them,” Mr Omoding said.

While some say the rising robbery cases could have been contributed by the worsening drought that has exposed more than 150, 000 residents to hunger, the source of the firearms raises more questions than answers.

Residents have demanded that a thorough probe into the use of firearms issued to NPRs be undertaken to establish if they could be the ones being used by criminals to terrorise residents or if there was collusion with rogue police officers.

Security agencies

“I feel security agencies are not doing enough to end the cases because they should have already established the source of the rifles and arrested the culprits. It is their mandate to protect us and our properties but we are feeling vulnerable,” one of the residents said.

Isiolo Sub-County Police Commander Collins Sainna said security agencies were working tirelessly to arrest the situation and ensure those involved were arrested and prosecuted for the offences.

Mr Sainna said a total of six suspects had been arrested in the last one week in possession of stolen items such as gas cylinders.

The security team, he said, had also arrested seven men suspected to be behind mugging incidents in Isiolo town for questioning. 

“We have enhanced patrols during the day and night and deployed both uniformed and civilian officers to comb the affected areas so that all the culprits are brought to book,” he said.

Traders lamented that the insecurity had adversely affected their businesses making it hard for them to fend for their families.