Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi’s wife, Emmy Chesire, carries six-year-old Senteiyo Kateiya after she was referred to Nairobi Women’s Hospital in Nakuru from Nakuru Provincial General Hospital. Senteiyo was shot in the head and chest during an attack in Mukutani. [Photo: Moses Kipsang/Standard]
At only six years old, Senteiyo Kateiya has been left alone to bear the scars of a conflict she probably knows nothing about.
When all was quiet after the latest wave of attacks in Mukutani, Baringo South, Senteiyo’s mother, brother and grandmother lay dead. Six years earlier, she had lost her father in a banditry attack.
Her brother, Bosco Lenapunya, who is nursing injuries at Nakuru Provincial General Hospital, said he will never forget the Tuesday evening incident that robbed him of three family members.
Lenapunya said the attack began at around 5pm and lasted for two and half hours. Their mother Nolmeseyeki Lekatiya and her three-year-old child were killed in the house. Their grandmother, Maria Parkitore, sought refuge in a nearby church but she suffered the same fate.
Area assistant chief Leshan Letapi’s pregnant wife was not spared either.
Once a lively village, Mukutani is now drowning in the blood of innocent Kenyans whose only mistake was going about their daily business. A day after the attack that left 11 people dead and hundreds homeless, Mukutani was a ghost town, patrolled by armed police officers and National Police Reservists.
The sight of 70 Pokot bandits, who were out to exert revenge, marked the beginning of the nightmare, Lenapunya said. Earlier in the day, there were rumours of impending death.
“Rumours had it that the Pokot had planned to attack our village and we planned to counter them. The elderly, women and children were assembled at the (Full Gospel) church, others at (Mukutani Primary) school and at the AP camp” he said.
Though they had no weapons, Lenapunya said, they were willing to do all they could to prevent the attack. Just when the drums of war were sounding, a chief from the Pokot community informed them that they had held talks and no attacks would occur.
They took the children, elderly and women back home and the process to prepare their supper began. Bloodshed had been averted. How wrong they were! At about 5pm, the angel of death and destruction descended.
The bandits first descended on a police station, police reservists station and an AP post hardly half a kilometre away. Gunshots rent the air and frightened villagers, mostly women, ran to Mukutani Primary, others to the pastor’s house and the church. But not even the sight of a house of God could prick the bandits’ conscience.
They killed four women and three children who were hiding in the pastor’s house.
“The child in hospital was with her mother at the pastor’s house… The bandits saw them and pursued them. They broke through the window and shot indiscriminately,” said Lenapunya.
He said the child survived through God’s grace but after having to see her mother lie in a pool of blood while holding her sibling. The girl’s uncle, Benjamin Parkitore, said Senteiyo’s father died in 2011 after being attacked by bandits who drove away all their livestock.
“My niece now has a hopeless life, her father was shot dead by bandits and her mother and her two siblings have also been killed,” he said.
The girl was referred to Nairobi Women’s Hospital in Nakuru for specialised treatment. The Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital nursing officer in charge Alphaxard Kemboi said the girl underwent an operation on Wednesday and was in a stable condition.
When will the nightmare end? survivors ask their government.