Elected leaders have expressed concern over harassment of Mt Elgon residents by security officers.
The officers were posted in the region to enforce a curfew imposed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i a month ago.
The leaders said it was worrying that officers, who were expected to secure locals from criminal gangs that has terrorised them for months, were mistreating them.
Speaking before the Senate Committee on Security that visited the region on Wednesday, local leaders and members of the House team, said they were aware of harassment incidents involving officers.
The committee was on a fact-finding mission following months of terror by a group linked to the outlawed Sabaot Land Defence Force that has led to at least 20 deaths in the past four months.
The team led by the Committee’s Vice-Chairman Johnston Sakaja met residents at Kopsiro where they received their views on how the problems facing the region could be solved.
“I have been harassed by some officers but I told them off. I asked them to do what they were sent to do. We welcome the curfew and it has really helped us get back our peace but this harassment must stop,” said Cheptais MCA Jane Chebet.
She said the officers were demanding money from boda boda riders and local traders.
Chebyuk MCA Frankline Simotwo said that some officers wanted to frustrate efforts by the government to restore peace in the constituency.
“Most of those who have been harassed were going on with their businesses. We do not have a problem with the curfew but our people should not be mistreated,” he said.
Dr Matiang’i imposed the dusk-to-dawn curfew on March 6 when he visited the area and will be enforced for three months.
He also ordered for the posting of more officers to enforce it in an attempt to curb rising insecurity.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, also a member of the committee, said he was initially opposed to the curfew for fear of being used to oppress innocent civilians but that he had reluctantly supported it to ensure that peace was restored.
He, however, said claims of mistreatment must be investigated and action taken against those involved.
“We know it is just a few rotten eggs who are doing this but innocent civilians should never be harassed. I will not allow that. The curfew should have a humane and friendly face,” he said promising that the committee was aware of the complaints.
Mr Sakaja asked the residents to report officers who misbehave while enforcing the curfew.
The committee expects to come up with a report that will help find a solution to the mountain of problems facing the residents.
Lack of title deeds, poor roads and learning infrastructure, illiteracy and historical injustices were some of the things that came up during the meeting. The residents said if those were solved then the area will be peaceful.
They said most of the residents in Phase 2 and 3 did not have titles deeds making it difficult to claim ownership of any piece of land.
The Ministry of Lands has already sent a team to the area in a bid to demarcate the parcels of land and process titles for owners.
Bungoma County Commissioner James Kianda said the team was already surveying the area.
“We will work together to ensure all the issues raised on land are solved,” said Mr Kianda who also revealed that 13 suspects had been arrested and taken to court.
The suspected leader of the group Timothy Kiptanui Kitai alias Cheparkach is, however, still at large. Police have put a Sh1 million bounty on his head.