Barely a day after Deputy President William Ruto directed police to use force to restore sanity in Laikipia County, herders are up in arms alleging harassment and torture by security agencies.
The mainly Samburu told the Nation, said the government was applying blanket force on pastoralists searching for pasture amid a devastating drought.
One of them said: “Polisi wanachapa watoto na wanawake, na sisi si watu wabaya, tumekuja kutafuta maji (The police are beating women and children. We are innocent and are here to look for pasture and water for our animals.”
Another resident, Mr Peter Lankas, said that the police should look for the criminals who have been vandalising and looting property from private ranches instead of harassing Samburus, Pokots and Turkanas.
“Criminals who have been torching lodges and launching attacks should be pursued and arrested, not the pastoralists.”
The outcry came as Laikipia County leaders on Wednesday supported the use force.
USING MORE FORCE
Laikipia West Member of Parliament Wachira Karani, said: “Let the government use more force to drive away people causing havoc in the guise of looking for pasture.”
He also condemned the shooting of an expectant woman and her two children at Arjijo village on Monday night by armed raiders.
Mrs Rose Kuraru, 25, and her two sons, eight and five years, were seriously injured when bandits attacked their home. The family has been airlifted to a Nairobi hospital for specialised treatment.
“These are criminals and should be dealt with ruthlessly,” said the MP in Nyahururu town.
He urged the government to investigate and arrest the people who killed Sosian ranch director Tristan Voorspuy, and to act against leaders inciting herders.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm has returned to ranches and conservancies in Laikipia a day after Mr Ruto held a high level security meeting in the area. Only three local leaders were present at the meeting — County Senator Godfrey Gitahi Kariuki, Laikipia West MP Karani and County Assembly Speaker Patrick Mariru.
Governor Joshua Irungu and other MPs, including Women Rep Jane Appolos, did not attend.
INVASION OF PRIVATE LAND
Invasions of private lands, ranches and conservancies by herders — mainly from Samburu, Isiolo, Baringo and West Pokot counties — have wreaked havoc and caused bloodshed.
In the past months, grazers have invaded Laikipia County with more than 50,000 cattle, goats and sheep in search of pasture and water.
A spot check on the ranches and conservancies, most owned by Kenyans of British extraction, revealed that security has been beefed up.
Back up police
In Sosian ranch where Mr Voorspuy was killed last weekend, more than 100 security personnel are patrolling.
The Nation also established that 200 Kenya Police Reservists commissioned on Tuesday by Mr Ruto have been sent to various ranches and conservancies to back up the police.
On Tuesday Mr Ruto issued firm instructions to security agencies: “Do everything possible to restore sanity in Laikipia, which is one of the preferred tourism destinations in the country. Drought should not be be an excuse for criminal activities,”