• Kisumu residents want KWS Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru to investigate the alleged fraudulent compensation.
• Middlemen have been approaching victims and their relatives, with intent to subvert the course of justice and defraud the victims, relatives and the government.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has been asked to investigate a ring of cartels believed to be working in cahoots with officers to defraud victims of wildlife attacks of their compensation.
Kisumu residents have petitioned KWS director general Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru to investigate claims of fraudulent compensation.
Petitioners Haggai Kadiri, Michael Nyaguti and Joshua Nyamori said there is an attempt to fraudulently influence the work of a compensation award committee.
They want Waweru to investigate if some staff at Ndere Island National Park and Kisumu regional offices are colluding with middlemen to defraud the victims.
“Middlemen have been approaching victims and their relatives, with intent to subvert the course of justice and defraud the victims, relatives and the government,” their petition reads.
The cartels are applying arm-twisting, promissory and threatening tactics as captured on tape from the victims and their relatives, the petitioners said.
“Cases dating back to 2012 and even earlier have either not been finalised or are being held back as the would-be beneficiaries are systematically tortured in mind and pushed to fall prey to the cartel’s meddling in the process of compensation. This is against the law that clearly states the procedure to be followed.”
They said there has been a deliberate delay of communication to the victims or their relatives on the status of the compensation.
“Instead, KWS staff have been referring victims to middlemen, whose role has been to arm-twist the applicants to agree to surrender part of the compensation upon award to be shared by the cartel.”
Nyaguti said many victims or their relatives have suffered and continue to suffer in silence with some having given up on pursuing compensation due to the expenses involved and lack of information.
“These economic crimes by some KWS staff encourages continued acts of impunity and result in loss of trust in the compensation process,” Nyaguti said.
He wants Waweru to provide them with a full list of the status of compensation awards to victims or their relatives indicating completed and pending cases in Kisumu county.
The list, he said, would enable them to undertake a social audit of the process as provided for in the Constitution.
He called for civic education and awareness campaigns in partnership with community groups.
Nyaguti wants KWS to construct a steel ring-fence around Ndere Island National Park to contain freely roaming crocodiles in Lake Victoria.
“The crocodiles should be kept within the island for the sake of protecting the lives of the fisherfolk in Lake Victoria, that is constantly threatened and exposed to attacks,” Nyamori said.
He urged the Law Society of Kenya to intervene to ensure beneficiaries get their compensation.
“We want the investigation to find who these middlemen are and who they are working with at KWS and why there are so many delays in compensation of our people,” Nyamori said.
Kadiri said there were increased cases of human-wildlife conflicts. “There are people in our communities who are in danger of being attacked by wildlife such as crocodiles all the time."
He said it was the responsibility of KWS to make sure that people are safe.
“We want wildlife protected. We want human life to be kept sacred and protect the life of our people,” he said.
“We know the water levels in Lake Victoria have risen but that should not be an excuse for our people to be attacked by crocodiles and other animals.”
Edited by P.O