Fine keeps 6 Kenyan fishers in Ugandan cells - Daily Nation

Six Kenyan fishermen arrested in L. Victoria detained in Uganda

Monday September 3 2018

Fishermen arrive from a fishing expedition in Lake Victoria. Three Kenyan fishermen who had been arrested by Ugandan authorities at Migingo Island have been released following protests from their colleagues. PHOTO/TOM OTIENO

Fishermen return from an expedition in Lake Victoria. Among the six arrested fishermen is Frankline Ochieng, a form four student of Kibuon Secondary School in Nyatike constituency, Migori county. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO |NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION

By VIVERE NANDIEMO
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Six Kenyan fishermen are being detained at Vuvumai in Uganda, following their arrests at Lake Victoria a week ago, as the Sh100,000 fine demanded cannot be paid.

They have been identified as Jacob Ogweno, Nelly Ochieng, Michael Supi, Frankline Ochieng, Odhiambo Nyundo and Kosu Odira.

HIGH FINE

Mr Zadock Kawa, who is chairman of Nyangwena Beach Management Unit in Migori county, said they were apprehended for allegedly fishing in Uganda's waters.

"Our efforts to have them released have not borne fruits," Mr Kawa said, adding the Ugandan officials also seized the fishermen's two boats and gear.

He said the authorities demanded a sum of Sh100,000 to free the fishers, money that their families could not raise, so he asked the Kenyan government to intervene.

The six will be charged on September 6 with fishing in Uganda's territory.

PERSISTENT ATTACKS

Among the six fishermen is Frankline Ochieng, a form four student of Kibuon Secondary School.

"My son went fishing as he was on holiday. With five other fishermen, he ventured into deep waters where they were arrested by Ugandan officials who demanded a total of 100,000 to release them. We cannot raise the money," said his father, Mr Johanes Odedo.

"I appeal to the government to intervene and have my son released so he can go back to school," he said and claimed that the detainees were being tortured in a Ugandan cell.

Kenyans fishers have in the past complained of insecurity at Lake Victoria, harassment by Ugandan officials and mistreatment on the disputed Migingo island.

Mr John Onyango, a fisherman, said: "Ugandan officials have been attacking us at the lake. They arrest us and confiscate our fishing gear. Scores of fishermen now fear venturing into the lake. This has adversely affected our only economic activity. We need help."

PAST ARRESTS

The fishermen claim that after they are arrested, they are forced to pay hefty fines in order to be released. Some have accused Ugandan officials of forcing them to eat raw fish as punishment.

Last week, two Kenyan fishermen identified as George Owuor and Ezekiel Onyango were attacked by Ugandan soldiers who allegedly set their boat on fire. They were taken to a local hospital in Sori with serious burns.

Last Saturday night, two fishermen from Kibro beach in Nyatike sub-county were robbed by suspected assailants from Tanzania.

Kibro Beach Management Unit chairman, Mr Samuel Magese, said the fishermen had been going about their business when the assailants attacked and then fled to the neighbouring country.

Two months ago, Ugandan military officers arrested and detained three Kenyan Administration Police officers who had gone to rescue Siaya fishermen from arrest by their Ugandan counterparts at Nambo Beach.

The Kenyans drawn from the Quick Response Team (QRT), Usenge AP base, were ambushed, assaulted, overpowered and their guns and mobile phones taken away by the Ugandan soldiers.

NOTORIOUS POLICE

Migori Governor Okoth Obado has blamed the national government, saying laxity in addressing the Migingo Island issue has resulted in the conflict between fishermen and Ugandan officials.

Governor Obado said that if he had the authority, he would deal with President Yoweri Museveni.

“If national security were a county government function, I would have dealt with this issue a long time ago. The Ugandan officials are notorious. They keep harassing our fishermen. It is unfair,” said Mr Obado.

He added: “I’ve been to Migingo Island. We all know it is right inside the Kenyan territory so I appeal to President Uhuru Kenyatta to resolve this issue once and for all to alleviate the untold suffering our fishermen are facing."

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