Tuesday, October 2, Kitui.
By Ruth Mutheu.
A man walks past grazing Somali camels, just meters from Musenge Market in Mutha. Pastoralists from Tana River County have encroached the Kitui County farming lands in Mutha, sparking land disputes that have led to crimes and atrocities in the past.
For more than 20 years,there has been an outcry by Mutha residents who feel that they have turned slaves in their own land and that the administration has shown no efforts to end the continuous Camel herders intrusion in their land.
Claims have it that these herders from bordering Tana River County have settled in their land, graze on their farms and are killing men and raping women among other issues,creating mental disturbances especially to women and school going children.
This has led to insecurity in the areas of Mutha, precisely Kalambani Location (Ingo, Musenge, and Kekuku, just to name a few).
Kitui Newspaper paid a visit to some of the affected families and confirmed that security at Musenge Sub Location is wanting.A family in Ingo village, where a man was killed in May, 2015 at Kyatune, his wife narrates that they came at night and woke him up.
“After opening the door, they took my husband some metres from the house and brutally beat him to death”, she said. Questioning the law action proceedings, the widow said police came in the morning and took the body to Mutha Police Station and later to Kitui.
The killer was arrested and released after denying charges at Mutha Police Station,under conditons unknown to the family.
“We were called at Mutha Police Station and again at Kitui but never understood what transpired because after the suspect denied the charges we can’t explain what happened later,” lamented one of his three wives saying they are living miserably since the demise of the family’s bread winner.
A second case of killing sited was of Benjamin Muthokoi, a pastor at AIC Musenge. The pastor was murdered on May 2017, at Syunguni. He was reportedly shot while riding on his motorcycle.
“He was burning charcoal at the bush when he heard a gunshot and ran towards where he was spending unfortunately on the way he met the enemies and they shot him and left,”explained his wife full of tears.
The widow added that the security officers visited her at home after the incident and promised all was well and she was to be compensated, which till today has not been done.
The mother of four says that her lower primary school-going daughter who is supposed to come home at 1pm is forced to wait for her elder sister to accompany her from school in fear of being raped .
“Huwa wanakuja nyumbani wanabisha mlango wanakuitisha maji ya kunywa na ukiwanyima kuna siku wataikujia usiku (They come during the day in pretext of asking fir drinking water, but if you turn them away, they’ll come back for you at night),” Said an old woman who sought anonymity.
Mutha village women narrate the endless terror they are forced to live with, during an interview with our reporter.
A 20 year old man who used to be a driver was shot in 2012 but he survived the bullets although he can no longer drive for he is partially disabled.
On our tour we found camels grazing a few metres from Musenge Market and truly in peoples farms. The residents are appealing to the Interior Security Minister Matiang’i to come to their rescue since the security officers in the area have been reluctant on driving these herders out.
The elders at Musenge Shopping Centre have called upon the government to drive these herders out immediately, and set up a Police Post in the area to strengthen security. “We do not have an MP to speak for us, Kitui East Member of Parliament Nimrod Mbai on his side is breathing fire due to insecurity in his area and the government is quickly responding,where is our MP?”Said an old woman.
A family member points out a fresh grave where one of the victims of the Somali-Kamba conflict was burried.
Hon. Anthony John (MCA Mutha Ward) and Cyrus Musyoka alias Sonko who had spent a day with residents of Mutha, in Kitui South Constituency, asked for calmness as the matter was on course for action. “We are collecting signatures to petition on this matter at the County Government of Kitui to ensure that all the land is utilized and that there will be no idle land for Somali herders to graze their camels . Let’s remain calm as we wait for our governments to respond and act,” Said Anthony who also demanded for a quick intervention by the security agents.
“Nitaenda kuongea na county commander na county commissioner watupatie askari (I am going to talk to the county commander to allocate you some officers) as we wait for a long lasting solution,” said Hon. Anthony.
The legislator feels like many young families will continue being poor and that the government should come up with ways to ensure affected families have been compensated.
Cyrus Musyoka a youth leader from Kitui South urged the government to see the plight of people and ensure that this problem is sorted once and for all.
“I urge all leaders to come together and put viable security installations to enable Mutha people enjoy their constitutional right of security and peace which has been elusive for years,” said Musyoka.
He said that insecurity has largely affected education and farming in the area siting that the poverty level is of great concern.
A tombstone of one of the victims allegedly murdered by Tana River County pastoralists in Mutha Ward, Kitui County
“The government is aware of the problems which Somali herders bring to our people because deaths and serious security violations have been reported” Said the concerned youth leader who assured the community that he will mobilize youth from the constituency and other like minded leaders to join hands and push the government to push the Somali herders out of Kitui County.