The recent violent attack in Kilingili on the border of Kakamega and Vihiga counties in which five watchmen were killed could have been a well-planned assault on senior citizens.
Multiple interviews with families of the victims on Monday revealed that youthful watchmen at the market may not be happy with the presence of older watchman.
They said some of the elderly guards had been threatened with warnings of death.
Ideally, people above the age of 60 should be starting to enjoy retirement.
But in Vihiga, shop owners trust their loyalty given that they are unlikely to be lured away from their employers.
AGED ABOVE 60
All the watchmen who were attacked and killed, and the two who are fighting for their lives at the Vihiga County Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mbale are aged 60 years and above.
Three of those who died hail from Kakamega County while two are from Vihiga County.
The five guards who died were identified as Linus Anyika, 68, Francis Jojo Osayo, 65, John Ondachi, 63, Thomas Minao, 70 and Charles Kalume, 70.
SUCCUMBED TO INJURIES
The fifth watchman identified as Mr Charles Kalume, 60, was rushed to Mbale hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Mr John Shiroha, 65, and Mr Boaz Oleta, 65, are being treated at the Vihiga County Referral Hospital in Mbale and are still groaning in pain.
A visit by the Nation to the home of 70-year-old Minao in Lwanaswa village, Idakho South in Kakamega County found family and friends trying to come to terms with his death, especially after he had received threats about six days ago.
Mrs Oroba Kageha, 70, the widow, and her children, Stephen Minao, 48, and Caleb Minao, 40, said guards below 60 years were not attacked and claimed that one of the youthful ones led in issuing death threats to Minao.
"We are treating him as the main suspect because he is a watchman at the market and threatened to kill our father. He kept following our father warning to kill him. On the night they were killed, my father ran to Kilingili Police Station for help but the police turned him away saying the station is in Vihiga," said Stephen, Minao's firstborn child.
"The threats at the place of work continued even after the employer was informed by my father. If the person who was issuing threats is arrested, all the other suspects will be arrested," he added.
The family had not reported the matter to the police when the actual attack happened.
Stephen says the main suspect, a youthful watchman at the centre, kept going to his father’s place of work, a local boutique.
Mrs Jane Aura, Minao’s daughter-in law, described him as a Christian who always updated his family about the goings-on at work.
The man is survived by his wife and five children, all adults who mainly do menial jobs for survival.
About half a kilometre from the Mr Minao's home, another family is mourning the brutal murder of John Ondachi.
He had not complained of any death threats before the incident but his family is reading mischief in the incident that did not get police attention when it was most needed.
On Sunday, angry locals had also linked the murders to laxity by officers at the Kilingili Police Station that is located 50 meters from the scene of the attack.
They accused the police of failing to respond to distress calls on grounds that the attack happened in Kakamega County and not Vihiga.
Mr Alex Makanga who is Mr Ondachi’s brother, says that the police station he helped built when he served as Ikolomani ward representative (in Kakamega) between 1984 and 1988 did little to save the man.
"The station has declined to help us and yet it is the nearest but located on the Vihiga side. I was among the leaders who fundraised when officers at the station were operating behind a hospital," says Mr Makanga.
"My brother retired in 2007. After staying here at home for some time, he decided to get some menial job at the market to fend for himself. That is when he got the job of a night guard," said Mr Makanga.
Mr Makanga adds that he is happy that all the officers at the station have been moved.
Police in the county are yet to confirm the changes but they had hinted at a possible overhaul at the station.
At the hospital in Mbale, Mr Shiroha, 65 and Mr Oleta, 65, say they are still in pain.
A gang of 30 people attacked them but they were lucky to live to tell of the ordeal.
They say youthful people belonging to outlawed 42 Brothers, a group of criminals, usually threaten them with attacks but do not steal property.
The Deputy Nursing Officer at the hospital Mr Aggrey Ememwa says they received three patients with head injuries.
One succumbed while two are still being attended to at the hospital.
"They are stable but still under close observation. CT scan has been done and a surgeon has seen them," he says.
On Sunday, Vihiga County Police Commander Hassan Barua confirmed the horrific incident and assured that changes would be made at the station after locals accused the police of "sleeping on the job".
Kakamega County Commissioner Abdinuzak Jaldesa said all the watchmen at the centre will be interrogated while his Vihiga counterpart, Ms Susan Waweru, assured that security will be beefed up to ensure safety and allow people to go about with their activities uninterrupted.
The affected families are calling for help to accord their loved ones a descent send off.