Set up special fund to compensate banditry victims, senators demand

Security troops readying for an operation to flush out armed bandits from Malaso escarpments in Samburu County.


What you need to know:

  • They want stock theft declared a national disaster and the fund to support widows, orphans, displaced families, and compensate them for economic losses.
  • The counties, Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu are inhabited by at least 8.8 million people of whom 1.7 million households depend directly on livestock.

Senators have called for the creation of a special fund to compensate victims of banditry and cattle rustling, which has claimed more than 300 lives since last year.

The lawmakers want the fund to support widows, orphans and displaced families, as well as to compensate for economic losses.

In a Motion moved by Baringo Senator William Cheptumo, the legislators also want cattle rustling to be declared a national disaster and a task force to be set up to investigate the causes of rampant cattle rustling and banditry in the troubled North Rift region.

They want the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the Council of Governors, to set up the taskforce to investigate the causes of cattle rustling and banditry and determine the extent of suffering, loss and damage caused to communities in the 14 affected counties.

The fund will go toward mitigating losses suffered by herders and compensate victims of cattle rustling, banditry and settle all internally displaced persons (IDPs) occasioned by the menace.

“In the past month, we have lost 14 people in my county of Baringo to cattle rustlers and bandits. Several other people lie in hospital tending to gunshot wounds, maimed and injured,” Mr Cheptumo said.

There are 14 counties plagued by bandit arracks and livestock stolen since the 1970s. Six of these were flagged as bandit-prone by the government last year.

The counties, Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu are inhabited by at least 8.8 million people of whom 1.7 million households depend directly on livestock for their day to day sustenance.

In Samburu, such attacks have left 200 people dead in less than a year, families displaced and hundreds of livestock stolen.

Attackers in Samburu West constituency, for instance, have left 72 people dead in just four months, including Angata Nanyekie MCA Paul Leshimpiro.

Senator Cheptumo said that apart from the deaths, a report by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) revealed that in three years alone, the loss arising from displacement and livestock theft is Sh154 billion.

The report, covering 2014 and 2016, indicated that a total loss attributed to cattle rustling and banditry was Sh14.7 billion while loss of displacement of people is Sh140.6 billion.

“This menace started in 1977. You can imagine the total cost in 49 years; it is massive. The pastoralist communities deserve to be compensated. I propose mitigation for the losses suffered, restoration of the communities. They should be resettled and compensated, so that we restore these people to their situations,” said Mr Cheptumo.

He said the menace has left negative socio-economic impacts which include, but are not limited to an increased number of widows, widowers, orphaned children, poverty, and displacement of people leading to internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Bandits captured during an aerial surveillance mission as part of the KDF's Operation Maliza Uhalifu in Kainuk, Turkana County.

Photo credit: KDF

Other effects are disruption of educational, and health programmes and other economic activities owing to the destruction and or closure of educational, health and other institutions.

“By declaring cattle rustling a national disaster, establishing a task force to investigate the root causes of the same, and establish special fund for victims, we signal our commitment as a House and as a people to end the suffering caused by cattle rustling and banditry,” he said.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo said that in Isiolo, for example, cattle rustling has changed from being cultural behaviour to a business where animals are taken and within a few hours, they find themselves in a market.

She observed that there is no development at all in the areas where cattle rustling is happening due to insecurity in the affected regions leading to stalling of such projects, citing the border with Wajir, Garissa, Samburu and even between Isiolo and Meru.

“I believe the proposal of a special fund will mitigate some of the factors or challenges we get because of cattle rustling. If you have 1,000 camels and they are taken away, if there is a fund somewhere, they can be compensated,” said Senator Dullo.

“If agriculture is given Sh2 billion, livestock should also be given the same amount in establishing a fund or even restocking as we have discussed in various forums in this country,” she added.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei added that financiers of the “well-organised criminal enterprise” are people who stay in Nairobi who use innocent young men, transforming them into criminals to steal livestock that end up on plates in Nairobi.

“In the past six months, we lost over 100 civilians and 16 police officers to cattle rustlers and bandits. Many families today without their sons, daughters, children, and spouses because of trigger-happy bandits. These regions have been turned into playgrounds of organised crime,” said Mr Cherargei.

Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu called for a special investigative team to find out who funds, supports and gives political protection to the rustlers.

He alleged that livestock is transported to urban centers where they are slaughtered and sold as meat to city residents.

The lawmaker said a law needs to be put in place to guide transportation of animals to ensure stolen livestock do not reach the intended market.

“If there was no readily-available market for these stolen animals, then we would not have this stock theft,” said the first term senator.

“Once these livestock are stolen, they are not kept by the bandits but transported for slaughter. We should come up with a method to ensure that all in-transit animals have been acquired genuinely,” he added.