Shianjesto village in Kakamega South sub-county is tucked in an undulating landscape that stretches into hilly patches and deep valleys.
Homesteads dot the hills and valleys that form the captivating scenery.
But behind the beauty, pain and fear grip villagers as criminal gangs have emerged, engaging in deadly raids in the usually quiet area.
“When darkness sets in, we are worried about our security. Youths start roaming in the village in groups armed with machetes and other crude weapons. It’s risky for one to go out in the dark,” said a woman, who requested not to be named for fear of reprisals from gang members.
Villagers who spoke to the Nation said jobless and idle youths in the village were involved in the vicious attacks.
In the past week, six suspects have been arrested and are expected to appear in court on robbery charges. Police have seized bhang from some of the suspects.
Villagers say chiefs and their assistants had failed to take security in Ikolomani seriously. They said the criminals are known to the authorities but no action had been taken against them.
Kakamega South police Commander Sadiq William said it was disturbing that many residents of Ikolomani spent most of their time in illicit brew dens.
“This region has fertile soils and plenty of rain. If the community worked hard, there is a huge potential for agricultural production. As law enforcers, we shall not allow criminals to terrorise residents and turn the sub-county into a jungle of lawlessness,” he said.
Mr William was posted to Ikolomani recently from Webuye West sub-county.
He has vowed to crack down on the criminal gangs and ensure they face the law.
Village elder and Nyumba Kumi official Bartholomew Atachi Amakoye said the crime wave is fuelled by bhang peddling and the selling of illicit alcohol.
“What is happening in the village is worrying. Several young men are unemployed and idle and all they do is spend time in the illicit brew dens during the day,” he said.
“At night, the youths arm themselves with machetes and other crude weapons and roam in the village at will, attacking and robbing anybody they meet on the way.
“We have started witnessing a worrying trend in which the youths are targeting homes and unleashing terror on their victims. This has to stop.”
Fleeing into the darkness
The thugs have been linked to the gruesome murder of a woman at her home.
They are reported to have gone to Rosemary Manyonyi’s home and knocked on her door at night.
When she opened the door, the gangster forced their way into the house and raped her before strangling her.
They stole money and other valuables before fleeing into the darkness.
Her husband, John Manyonyi, who works in Solai, Nakuru, was shocked when news of his wife’s death reached him.
“My wife had been living alone at home. What has happened has devastated me. We plan to pull down the house where the murder was committed and build a new one,” he said.
Other parts of Ikolomani are reeling from similar attacks by criminal gangs.
On August 24, an armed group raided a private school and defiled two pupils and raped a female teacher in a night robbery.
A guard was overpowered by the five-man gang and beaten senseless.
Armed with metal bars and machetes, the thugs broke into a dormitory at 11pm and sexually assaulted the girls and their teacher.
They then broke into several offices and stole valuables, including a laptop, a tablet and two mobile phones.
Mr William, the sub-county police commander, had just reported to his new workstation when the attack happened.
“We are doing everything possible to arrest the suspects and charge them in court. What happened is quite unfortunate but our officers are (investigating),” he said.
After the attack on the private school, the gang raided a neighbouring mixed day secondary school and broke into offices after overpowering the night guard and stuffing his mouth with pieces of cloth to prevent him from raising the alarm.
The thugs are reported to have broken into a school canteen and stolen Sh10,000 before fleeing.
Shianjesto is about five kilometres from the private school, raising the possibility that the suspects linked to the murder of the woman also committed the robberies and sexual assaults at the school.