News 2008



The Sengwer people in Kenya suffer at the merciless hands of cattle raiders as well as from the atrocities and heavy shelling of the area caused by undisciplined security forces.

North Rift / Kenya - WTN - 16. Feb. 2008 - THE SENGWER, one of the indigenous peoples of Kenya and as such recently recognized by the Kenya Government, requested today help to petition the Government of Kenya – Ministry of Provincial Administration and National Security - to order the security forces operating in the North Rift Valley and especially in Trans Nzoia East District to not use heavy ammunitions when pursuing cattle rustlers while they are still within peoples' homesteads.

Yesterday in the morning over 100 armed cattle rustlers attacked Kapolet and Kapsara sub-locations in Makutano location, Kaplamai division in Trans Nzoia District in the North Rift Valley Province. The rustlers went with about 100 heads of cattle and unknown number of sheep and donkeys – the security personnel fought them and managed to recover 5 cows and over 40 sheep. Three people were shot dead – the raiders shot dead 1 person of Sengwer and 1 of Kikuyu ethnicity; while the police shot and killed 1 raider.

But the biggest problem is that the security personnel shoot aimlessly with heavy ammunitions as one can see in the pictures below.

Some explosives hit the ground just 10 meters from Sengwer homes. The explosives landed near at least three Sengwer families’ houses and another about 100 meters away from the Sengwer Cultural Centre. This is the third time the security officers fire the ammunitions at random and also hit Sengwer homesteads. It is presumed that the hasty recruitment of new security personnel to beef up government security and their untrained state contributes to the problem.

One rocket propelled grenade landed near Mr Laima's house, a Sengwer elder, and luckily it didn’t explode. Until now the officers have not made any attempt to retrieve, secure or destroy it. This poses another big risk. It can explode any time and cause a lot of harm and damage.

The Sengwer families living in Kapolet forest are living in constant fear – from the raiders as well as from the security personnel.

Furthermore, this unit of heavily armed security forces broke into three Sengwer houses. They locked two Sengwer men into a house and wanted to set the house on fire ‘burning the two alive in the house’ – only after other police intervened these murderous officers were stopped.

Today ten more people were killed in the same area and it is not clear if these were raiders or innocent people.

Because of these uncontrolled actions by the police over 500 Sengwer families have fled now their homes in Kapolet forest and also Amani primary school in Kapolet had to be closed.

The four local Administration Police officers, stationed usually at Kapolice AP Post, have run away, hence there’s no security at Kapolet at the moment.

The Sengwer therefore demand:

1. adequate security personnel should be based at Kapolet

2. security officers and community leaders in Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Pokot North districts should work together to end cattle rustling

3. land questions dating back to 1895 should be addressed through enactment of national land policy

4. a new constitution that will recognize ancestral land rights should be adopted

5. security personnel should avoid use of bombs, grenades and anti-personnel’s on or around homesteads

6. Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and Sengwer Indigenous Peoples should work together to find away of converting Kapolet, Kapkanyar and Kipteeper Indigenous Forests into a game reserve.