These criminal gangs must be
4. March 2008
The killing of 12 people near Kitale by a shadowy gang is sending
a chilling message that calm has yet to return to some parts of
the country, despite the efforts to end violence.
What is even more alarming is that this is not just an ordinary
group of criminals. It is a well-organised and fairly
sophisticated outfit - fully armed and dressed in full police
The raiders, believed to be members of the Sabaot Land Defence
Force, are able to disguise their identity and get away with
Mt Elgon and parts of Trans Nzoia district have experienced such
attacks in the past, and apparently, there is no respite in sight
Going by police accounts, there are indications that this was a
revenge attack, as the group presumably sought to deal with people
who had failed to co-operate. It may be too early to conclusively
say that this was the motive.
But by all indications, this is a vicious group that exacts heavy
demands on their victims. In this case, they even want parents to
release their sons to join the militia and also pay for their
upkeep. The group operates like a government of its own, making
demands and meting out punishment at will.
This must stop. The Government cannot allow this to continue. All
such criminal groups must be flushed out from their hideouts and
dealt with ruthlessly.
At a time that the entire nation is still reeling from the
violence that followed the disputed December elections, such
bloodletting is likely to spur revenge attacks and create ugly
As we have said before, the political crisis created room for
criminals to cause mayhem under the guise of settling electoral
scores. This may get worse unless urgent action is taken to rein
in the militias.
The time for action is now. Internal Security minister George
Saitoti and the Police Commissioner must roll out a strategy of
dealing with these dangerous criminals. Political and community
leaders must also take it as a responsibility to stop these gangs.
This country has suffered; too much blood has been shed, families
and property destroyed and the last thing we want to hear is about