Angry boda boda operators storm Tharaka village in search of murder suspect

House burnt

The house which was torched by suspected bodaboda operators from Meru town in Maigani village in Tharaka constituency, Tharaka Nithi County on April 5, 2023. 

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

About 100 armed men from Meru town stormed Maigani village in Tharaka constituency on Wednesday night and tormented residents for almost an hour, demanding that they produce a man they accused of killing their colleague and stealing his motorcycle last month.

The attackers, who were armed with pangas, metal rods and other crude weapons, beat the residents mercilessly, demolished two houses and torched another belonging to Godfrey Mutuma, the suspect in the murder and robbery with violence case.

Karimi Murimi, Mutuma's mother, said she saw the riders entering her house and ran into a nearby bush where she hid until they left and the police arrived.

She said the angry men searched the houses, scattering everything outside and later burning it, before setting one house on fire and demolishing the other two.

"From where I was hiding, I could hear them vowing to kill my son or even come back and wipe out the whole family if he disappeared completely," Ms Murimi said.

She added that before arriving at her house, they abducted two residents of the neighbourhood, beat them up and forced them to lead them to her house.

Joseph Kigacha said he and his son were doing some work on Ms Murimi's farm when the assailants stormed in and demanded that they produce the murder suspect.

He said they beat her and forced her to lie down until they had finished ransacking the house.

"They beat me and my son and forced us to lie down and demanded that we produce Mutuma, but we pleaded with them, explaining that we had only been given paid labour on the farm and that we did not know the suspect," said Mr Kigacha.

Nkondi Division Assistant County Commissioner, Mr Duncan Ngare, said he received a report of the attack and rushed there with police officers but unfortunately all they found was a trail of destruction.

Reportedly killed

He said on the 30th of last month, a motorbike was recovered from the roadside in Kibunga area in neighbouring Turima Division, believed to be that of the man reportedly killed.

He said the motorcycle was reportedly stolen in Meru town and the owner killed.

Mr Ngare assured Kiigani residents of safety and urged the public to always give the police time to investigate a matter and not to take the law into their own hands by either attacking a suspect or even taking revenge by hurting other people.

"I urge the public to stop taking the law into their own hands by killing suspects or even attacking innocent people just because they are their relatives or even villagers," Mr Ngare said.

The suspect's mother said that although she had heard rumours that her son had committed a crime in Meru town, she had not seen or spoken to him for a long time.