Families of late Shabaab attack victims want loans written off

Most of those killed in the attacks between 2014-15 were men, leaving loans to their widows and orphans

In Summary

• The attacks in Mpeketoni, Kibaoni, Witu, Hindi and Basuba killed over 100 people. 

• Families say the deceased who took the loans died with the plan to pay them back. 

The families of Lamu residents killed by al Shabaab militants between 2014 and 2015 want the Agricultural Finance Corporation to waive the loans taken by their late relatives. 

The burden to repay was transferred to widows and orphans as most of those killed were men.

In that period, Mpeketoni, Kibaoni, Witu, Hindi and Basuba witnessed the worst bloodbath following a spate of Shabaab raids that left more than 100 people dead and property worth millions destroyed.

On Tuesday, the families said in Mpeketoni town that they are being pursued by AFC officials, yet they are unable to repay.

Their spokesperson, Paul Kimani, said the corporation has been confiscating their property. He termed it disheartening that the families had been left on their own after the 2014-15 tragedies.

“They have come for our property, including cows and land. But people don’t understand that those who took the loans are the only ones who had plans on how to pay back. It's not fair that they force us to pay back even when they know very well we are incapable,” Kimani said.

He urged Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri to intervene and write off the loans to save them from constant harassment by the agency.

Janet Muthoni, who lost her husband, said they had to sell household items to begin repaying the Sh200,000 her husband took in 2014.

“We can’t do this on our own. The government knows very well that we lost men who were not just husbands but providers. We depended on them fully and so when they died, our hopes died too. We struggle to get by, not to mention repaying the loans,” she said.

Many of the families expressed fear they would be sent to jail if they failed to repay, with the loans accumulating huge interests.

Monica Kimani, said, “Even if we sell everything we own, we will never be able to fully repay these loans. It’s impossible. If they decide on prosecuting, many of us will go to jail."

The families also appealed to the Lamu government led by Governor Fahim Twaha to intervene. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)