Karebe gold miners’ widows now seek State protection, claim lives are in danger

Chemase residents

Residents of Chemase in Tinderet constituency, Nandi County, during a meeting with the management of Karebe Gold Mining Company in Chesame on January 24, 2023, following the death of three miners, while six others were injured after a rival mining company allegedly blasted a wall inside the tunnels while the victims were at work.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

Widows of three workers of Karebe Gold Mining Company in Nandi County who died while extracting the precious stone, now claim that their lives are in danger.

The trio claims persons close to suspects behind the January 23, 2023 tragedy are tormenting their families in a bid to frustrate ongoing investigations.

The aggrieved families are requesting to be evacuated from their current homes to safer places, to avert any eventualities that might be caused by the alleged perpetrators.

At least 24 suspects were arrested and questioned by detectives after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Nairobi headquarters took over investigations into the mining tragedy.

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It followed demands from locals, who accused the local security team of complicity.

DCI officers from Nairobi consequently detained 10 suspects who are expected to be charged in court.

Nation has since established that the local community is under pressure to accept an inquest into the incident which sparked tension in Tinderet sub-county.

But a majority of locals, including the deceased’s families, are opposed to the suggestion, with powerful individuals in the government said to be behind the push.

Caroline Rotich and Sheila Agui, widows of Geoffrey Rotich and Julius Agui respectively, called on the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to provide their families with security. 

They claim there are unnamed ‘powerful people' blackmailing them to resolve the cases outside the court.

“Our lives are in danger since our husbands died on January 23 2023 at the Karebe underground tunnels,” Ms Rotich said.

The widows say they had received several threats on their lives. They say relatives of the key suspects have been threatening them not to pursue the case.

The deceased families claimed the suspected killers have been going around their homes, warning that unless they agree to have the cases solved at home by the elders, they would suffer unknown consequences.

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Preliminary investigations indicated that suspected illegal miners invaded the mining tunnel and planted the explosives that killed three Karebe Gold Mining employees and left six others with injuries in the tragedy that happened three weeks ago.

As the widows spoke of the threats on their lives, residents and community leaders at Chemase location demanded that the government should ensure all suspected criminals are charged in court.

They warned that unless action is taken, they will take the law into their own hands.

Chemelil MCA Martin Dauglus said they will not give in to the demands from powerful forces in the government to have an inquest opened over the murder of the three workers.

A group of Nandi elders led by Dickenson Keroney, Richard Tarus and David Yego said the entire village and families of those killed were living in fear since the January 2023 deaths.

The elders stated that they were satisfied with investigations conducted by DCI Director Eliud Lagat adding that they want the DPP to ensure all those implicated are charged in court.

Mr Keronei and Yego said the local community would not allow a cover-up of the incident, which sparked protests from the local leaders.

The community elders told off senior government officials said to be messing up with investigations as they seek to protect the rival company for personal gains.

Retired Chief Jackton Choge and African Inland Church (AIC) Pastor Charles Koech explained how powerful government officials wanted murder charges dropped and have an inquiry instead.

“The local community in Chemelil Ward will not accept to have the murder charges reduced to an inquest. There is a scheme to protect criminals who killed the three workers," Mr Choge stated.

Governor Stephen Sang, speaking at the burial of Mr Rotich recently demanded that the State should pursue the killers.


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