Fear of curse or capture? Kenyatta's Northlands sheep thieves silently return them

Individuals who invaded part of the Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City and stole livestock

Individuals who invaded part of the Kenyatta family-owned Northlands City and stole livestock on March 27, 2023. The invaders forced their way into Northlands through a fence in the Kamakis area on the Eastern Bypass. 

Photo credit: Dennis Ondongo | Nation Media Group

Some of the sheep that were stolen when a gang invaded and carted away animals and trees at Northlands farm in Ruiru, Kiambu County on March 27, 2023, have been returned.

Police sources on Thursday reported that so far 18 sheep have been returned to the farm owned by the family of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.

People — some believed to be aides of two Nairobi politicians — in cars have been dropping the animals near the farm.

Five of the sheep were on Wednesday night found abandoned at Dandora police station, where enquiries led to security managers at the farm identifying them through special marks on the animals, before they were returned to the farm.

The farm’s security manager, Mr Patrick Masinde, confirmed the return of the animals, saying: “So far we are optimistic with the process, since we have recovered 18.”

He said the recovered sheep are emaciated due to poor husbandry “since these are not traditional breeds that feed anyhow.

“We urge all holding our stock to return them peacefully.”

The raid on the farm came on a day the opposition Azimio coalition was holding countrywide protests, which had been planned for every Monday and Thursday, to push the government to lower the cost of living, and stop selection of electoral commissioners, among other demands.

In the well-coordinated raid that followed public utterances by some Kenya Kwanza politicians inciting invasions on the Kenyatta properties, hundreds of hired hooligans arrived at the farm in lorries, armed with power saws, axes and machetes.

They overwhelmed the private guards on the farm and proceeded to cut down trees, steal sheep and demarcate the land to allocate themselves plots, with some even building structures. The raiders also torched part of the 51,000 acres.

Area police did not respond to numerous distress calls from the security managers and only showed up 24 hours later to assess the damage.

A bi-partisan committee of Parliament has now been formed to discuss the way forward on the demands by Azimio, while the mass action has been called off.

On April 3, elderly women who claimed to have been Mau Mau fighters, while in the Kenyatta family’s Ichaweri village, allegedly uttered a public curse on the raiders, promising them “untoward suffering”.

They allegedly advised those who took away the sheep to voluntarily return them, and at an individual level, seek cleansing to ward off the curse.

On April 10, elders from the Kikuyu Council of Elders’ cultural pillar Kiama Kia Ma, led by Mr Rigami Ciombou, threatened to put a curse on all who disrespect the Kenyatta family “and we want even the bipartisan talks that are being mooted to spare a session to discuss such an act of aggression to a family that carries immense historical importance in the community and the country at large”.

Mr Masinde said he suspected publication of photos in the press showing some of the raiders carrying or herding away the sheep from the farm might have prompted the return of the animals.

Asked whether there were sheep recovered and believed to be among those stolen from Northlands, Ruiru sub-county police commander Alexander Shikondi responded: “You are telling me, and Dandora is not in Kiambu County.”

“We have a multiagency team that was dealing with the matter and immediately various actors submit their reports, we will act accordingly,” said Mr Shikondi when he was asked about the status of investigations into the invasion, destruction and theft at Northlands.