Residents protest killing of teenage herder 'by police'

crime scene

A police tape at a crime scene. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Laikipia residents have petitioned the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) to investigate the killing of a 17-year-old herder during a confrontation with law enforcers.

Police have remained tight-lipped about the shooting on Monday night that ended the herder’s life.

Laikipia East Police Commander John Tarus declined to provide details on how Apiti Lekartua met his death at Crest Ranch in Kimugandura village.

Though Mr Tarus acknowledged the teenager was shot and a post-mortem was conducted at the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary, he did not disclose who fired the killer bullet.

Residents claim the herder was shot by police who had impounded a herd of cattle they claimed were grazing illegally at the private ranch.

A police report from the Kariunga Police Post stated that six security officers were ambushed by bandits after impounding the cattle and they shot back at the attackers, firing a total of 34 bullets.

The report did not disclose details of the fatal injury inflicted on the herder, only stating that four police officers and two National Police Reservists were involved in the operation to flush out herders from a private farm.

Residents now want Ipoa to investigate the matter and bring the officer involved in the fatal shooting to book.

Saituk Kaparo, the community spokesman, claimed there were no armed bandits but only herders who were grazing livestock.

“There are no armed herders and we have been grazing here through an agreement with the farm management. It is only recently that security officers have started harassing us and impounding our cattle,” said Mr Kaparo.

Cases of herders driving their livestock forcefully onto private ranches are common in Laikipia County during drought.

Some of the herders strike agreements with ranch managers and pay them to graze the cattle.

Ranch owners have accused herders of sneaking in large numbers of cattle and exceeding the agreed limit.