Scared Kitui families reject state plea to return home after bandit attacks

The families doubt the government’s commitment to protect them

In Summary
  • Area MCA Nzingi Ngwele however says the security situation has improved a great deal
  • The fleeing families left their Kanyunyi and Kiseuni village homes in November following attacks that left a villager beheaded.
Some of the displaced families camping at the Mandongoi Dispensary.
IN A FIX Some of the displaced families camping at the Mandongoi Dispensary.

About 50 families from Kiseuni and Kanyunyi villages in Mwingi North, Kitui county who were displaced by bandits refuse to return home as they doubt government’s commitment to guarantees their safety.

The live a life of hopelessness in makeshift camps around Mandongoi trading centre in Ngomeni ward. They say they are scared of going back to their homes lest they be killed.

Martha Janet, a spokesperson of families camping at Mandongoi Dispensary, told the Star on Thursday,

“It should be known that our homes and farms are far away near the Kitui-Tana River border. We fled in November after one of our own was beheaded and others were left with serious injuries after attacks by the bandits,” Janet said.

The displaced families spokesperson Martha Janet.
DESPERATION The displaced families spokesperson Martha Janet.

Ngomeni MCA Nzungi Ngwele said he was aware of the plight of the displaced families. He however said with the efforts that the government had made to restore peace, they should go back to their homes.

“It is just a case of being scared and fearful that there could be a resurgence of attacks by the usually armed camel herders. But all I know is that a lot has been done by the government as the security situation has improved a great deal,” he said.

Ngwele said on phone on Thursday that instead of the residents punishing themselves by living in very inhumane state in makeshift camps, they should go back to their homes.

“After the Interior CS Kithure Kindiki visited Mandongoi on November 22, a GSU camp has been set up at Mandongoi market. A Border Patrol Unit contingent has also been set up at Kasiluni a short distance away,” he said.

He said with the presence of the two special security units stations in the volatile area, and constantly carrying out of patrols in the area, no families should be suffering by spending cold nights in makeshift camps or the bush.

She said their feelings were that the efforts being made by the government to restore security were not good enough to convince them go back to their homes and farms.

Ngomeni MCA Nzungi Ngwele
LEADER Ngomeni MCA Nzungi Ngwele

Janet said the only thing that would make them feel secure was for the government to plant security officers at the border of Kitui and Tana River counties.

Ngwele said the setting up of a security personnel camp at Mwaani area at the border of Kitui and Tana River, would be the perfect thing to do. “That way, the security officers would be able to repulse the criminal before they enter Kitui,” he added.

Janet said the setting up of a GSU camp at Mandongoi left residents of Kanyunyi and Kiseuni villages that are kilometers away as one approaches Tana River, exposed to attacks by bandits who pose as innocent camel herders.

"We want to see security men stationed way past our homes and farms so that they could stop the bandits from venturing into our area to cause mayhem," she said.

Janet recalled that a day after CS Kindiki visited the area and held a security meeting at Mandongoi market, the bandits hit Mandongoi trading centre and shot a woman in the arm.

She added that since the bandits killed Stephen Kiilu in November, and given that the armed camel herders were still roaming the area freely, the thought of the displaced families going back home was difficult at least for now.

"The truth is that the killing of Kiilu was alarming. We are not going back to our homes only for another one of our own to be killed in cold blood by the marauding and heartless armed camel herders," she said.

Another displaced person Peter Mwenga said the families were faced with imminent food crisis as they were unable to access their farms some of which were over 10km away.

"These people are starring at serious food deficiency because since they ran away from their homes, they have not returned to their farms. We will have to depend on alms and relief food for some time," he said.

A sign posts ofMandongoi Primary School that is erecyed at the Mandongoi Trading centre.
VOLATILE AREA A sign posts ofMandongoi Primary School that is erecyed at the Mandongoi Trading centre.

A local pastor Jeremiah Nyayo said people living in makeshift camps were facing numerous challenges among them lack of food, clothing and diseases related to the cold condition they have to make do with.

He said they required donations in terms of medical service, tents and clothing to keep children warm especially at the night.

The Kyuso subcounty police commander Nicholas Mutua, under whose jurisdiction the troubled Mandongoi areas falls, said the government had done everything to restore security in the area.

“I think any families that have not gone back to their homes are doing a lot of injustice to themselves. We have station the GSU camp in the areas and officers are patrolling to preclude any trouble,” said Mutua on phone.

He said he would liaise with the local administration officials so that a meeting would be held with the displaced families to assure them of their security.



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