Police identify 72-year-old gangster who terrorised Vihiga

Thursday March 05 2020

Residents of Busamu in Vihiga County outside the home of businessman Kennedy Ambani after gangsters attacked and killed him, his wife and their two children on February 21, 2020. Police believe gangsters linked to one James Ing'ombe, 72, were behind the crime. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Security chiefs in Vihiga County have identified a 72-year-old criminal gang leader recently lynched by a mob following a robbery with violence.

County Commissioner Ochillo Oyugi said James Ing'ombe was the leader of a gang that has been terrorising residents.

The criminals are linked to the murder of a family of four in Busamo Village in late February.


Ing'ombe, who hailed from Izava, was lynched on February 28 and his house torched.

Mr Oyugi said Ing'ombe also served as the gang's traditional leader and cleanser.


Police had been looking for the gang leader in connection with a murder in Emuhaya last October.

"He was involved in a spate of crimes and cleansed his gang after committing robberies and murders," Mr Oyugi told the press at his Mbale office, flanked by County Commander Hassan Barua, County Criminal Investigations Officer Joshua Cheptoo and County Intelligence Coordinator John Maina.

"He was being sought by police in Emuhaya. His matter had been recorded at the Divisional Crime Unit under criminal number 944/10/2020."


The wave of gang crimes in the county has seen police open an inquest, with the aim of arresting more criminals.

So far, six gang members aged between 22 and 43 have been charged at the Vihiga Law Courts with robbery with violence.

They are Benjamin Mayodi (26), Peter Keya (25), Stanley Musungu (35), Kennedy Ogonda (43), Julius Opati (22) and Ian Asena (24).

They were arrested following alerts from the public and will return to court on Monday.

"They dropped out of school. One is a boda-boda operator, another sells mandazi in Chavakali and one is an ex-convict at Shilitsa prison," he said.

"We have enough evidence linking them to the robbery incidents."


The suspects hail from a village in Sabatia that neighbours Busamo.

The four relatives who were killed were 40-year-old Kennedy Ambani, who had a business at Magada trading centre, wife Elizabeth Achieng' (35), son Gifton (10) and daughter Ann (eight).

"We are in search of two or three more suspects. We arrested 14 but, after interrogation, some were turned into witnesses," said the county commissioner.

He noted that the gang has networks outside Vihiga, which makes it easier for members to escape after crime sprees.


Mr Oyugi said security agencies in the county reached out to their counterparts in the neighbouring Kakamega County regarding the gang's operational base there.

Mr Barua said the gang members have bases at Amalemba and Sigalagala in Kakamega.

"We have activated our Nyumba Kumi initiative, intensified patrols and enforced the free flow of information from the public. Our toll free number is 988," he said.

"We shall not leave any stone unturned. Locals were residing with the suspects but never told police until after the crime had been committed. People should learn to share information."