HELPLESS RESIDENTS IN TEARS

Farmer murdered by gang terrorising Ruiru villages

A 51-year-old farmer was killed on Wednesday night as he guarded his kales.

In Summary

• The gang steals household items, farm produce, livestock, money and other valuables.

• House break-ins, burglaries and muggings have become the new normal in Gatong’ora and Kwihota villages

Gatong'ora village residents carry the body of 51-year-old Joseph Kiarie who has murdered by a gang on Thursday.
PROTEST: Gatong'ora village residents carry the body of 51-year-old Joseph Kiarie who has murdered by a gang on Thursday.
Image: John Kamau
Gatong'ora residents at the scene where a 51-year-old farmer was brutally murdered on Thursday.
INSECURITY: Gatong'ora residents at the scene where a 51-year-old farmer was brutally murdered on Thursday.
Image: John Kamau

Gatong’ora residents in Ruiru have protested against a surge in crime in the area.

In the latest incident, a 51-year-old man was murdered. Residents say house break-ins, burglaries and muggings have become the new normal in Gatong’ora and Kwihota villages, with a gang of young men terrorising them with reckless abandon.

They say they now live at the mercy of the gang, whose members roam their villages armed with crude weapons such as machetes, knives and mallets. They say the gang steals household items, farm produce, livestock, money and other valuables.

On Thursday, the residents woke up to a rude shock after they found the mutilated body of a 51-year-old farmer dumped in his kales farm in Kwihota village. Joseph Kiarie, the deceased, had been guarding his farm on Wednesday night in the company of his friend who escaped unscathed when the gang accosted them.

Residents who spoke to the press after the protests said Kiarie, a father of eight, had suffered huge losses on his farm. The criminals had been harvesting his kales at night, hence his night watch decision.

"They tied his hands and legs and brutally murdered him. His head seemed to have been smashed with a huge stone. We are shocked because Kiarie was a peaceful and hardworking man," resident Elizabeth Wanjiku said.

"We are living in fear of attacks by the criminals who have turned our village into their hiding den while perpetrating all manner of crimes. The authorities must wake up from their slumber and deal with them decisively."

The protestors marched to area chief Joses Ntwiga’s office and accused the local regional administration officials of inaction.

"We have reported the incidents countless times to the authorities and no action has been taken. The gang has now started killing us and we have nowhere to run," James Njoroge said.

They appealed to the Interior ministry to overhaul of the subcounty security team and transfer officers who have been sleeping on the job.

"We are being terrorised on their watch. They should go if they can’t perform their duties of protecting citizens and their properties," Njoroge said.

Area MP Simon King’ara, who joined the protestors, condemned the killing and the spate of burglaries and house break-ins that have become the order of the day.

King’ara urged security officials in the area to take their work seriously and curtail crime, or he will have them transferred. He said the area NG-CDF office had already set aside Sh10 million for construction of a police station in Gatong’ora but accused the area security team of declining to approve the project.

"It’s saddening that our people are being terrorised at their homes, especially at this time when the country is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. I call upon the authorities to ensure the security of our people and their properties comes first," King’ara said.

His claim was, however, dismissed as political theatrics by Ruiru Subcounty Security Committee chairman Geoffrey Kithinji. Reached for comment, Kithinji, who is also the Ruiru deputy county commissioner, said the MP or the CDF office had not forwarded such a proposal to the committee, hence it was irresponsible to allege they had blocked such a project.

"Again there is a procedure that has to be followed. Once the proposal is okayed by the subcounty and county security committees, the issue will be taken to the Inspector General who will give a go-ahead after establishing that there is land for the project and that the land has a title deed," Kithinji said.

He added that the killing was already being investigated. He added that the police had intensified patrols to curb crime.

"Police officers responded to the incident and it’s under investigations to establish whether it was an organised crime and to bring the criminals to book," Kithinji said on the phone.

He said that police officers are working with Nyumba Kumi clusters in the villages to restore calm and flush out all criminals from their hideouts.

(Edited by F'Orieny)