• The Gusii region might soon become the next frontier of extra-judicial killings of the aged.
• For the last three months alone about five have been tortured and burnt in various parties of the county for suspected engagement in the vice.
Civil society activists in the Gusii region have raised the alarm over the surge of cases where old people, especially women, are being killed over claims of engaging in witchcraft.
The officials say the killings, though scattered in separate areas, point to an emerging societal problem that needs to be addressed before the situation gets out of hand.
“The (killings) have lately become spontaneous and we are now witnessing a rare pattern where idle youth ransack homesteads, select old people and torch them in their houses,” said Ruth Manoti, Director Seeds of Hope.
She said in some primitive places they are slaughtering old women for suspected involvement of their neighbours, some of who could be even ailing from Covid-19.
She said the Gusii region might soon become the next frontier of extra-judicial killings of the aged like Lamu and Tana River counties where the killings of the elderly on claims of practising witchcraft had been known to be severe.
The journalist turned civil activist said there is a need for quick action to address the situation before it runs out of hand.
“It can turn chaotic and out of control when a villager dies in those neighbourhoods. This is the time you will see bands of youth group move at night, drag such old people from their slumber and torch them for the suspected involvement,” stated Manoti.
For the last three months alone about five have been tortured and burnt in various parties of the county for suspected engagement in the vice.
Three alone are from the neighbouring Bonchari and Marani Sub-Counties.
Last week, a woman in her 70s was dragged from her farm and bludgeoned before she was tossed into a burning house at her Riana home in Bonchari.
The villagers had fingered her for the death of the young man though police said he was electrocuted.
Manoti said some of the killings, especially in Bonchari can be related to land.
“In an environment where the resource is fast declining, such incidents are bound to increase. Those who are greedy often capitalize on the agility of youth, many of them who are idle at such times when unemployment is growing, to help kick out or kill those standing in their way to the property they want,’’ said a former NTV journalist.
He said failure by chiefs to provide early and quick intelligence to police may also be to blame for some killings.
“In instances where information is passed early, police have been seen to act to save a life but where it had been, on the contrary, lives had been lost, sometimes in huge numbers,” the Seeds of Hope boss told journalists.
She was speaking when the group teamed up with county health officials at Nyanko area at Tabaka area in South Mugirango.
County health promotions boss Beatrice Matara who was present urged the elderly to improve their diet so as to boost their immunity in the surge of Covid-19 infections.
She said the consumption of fresh foods and fruits had shown to increase immunity in the body.
“Fresh vegetables are in the plenty in Kisii and can be sourced cheaply and be farmed in the orchards. Let us use the produce from these farms to eat healthily,” she said.
She also advised them to use the stipends they are receiving from the government to improve their lives.
Matara said there had been cases where the elderly squander the money on alcohol thus defeating the purpose of the program.
“It appears a small token but if used wisely it can save our old people from dying early, and this can only be realized if the money is put into investments that can be tapped to provide healthy nutrients to them,” she said.