The stabbing to death of a seven-year-old Grade One pupil in Matungu, Kakamega County, by unknown attackers on Sunday evening has jolted residents and left security chiefs scratching their heads for answers.
The brazen attack on Malik Moi, who was stabbed twice — in the stomach and neck — has dampened hopes that the ongoing security operation involving the dreaded General Service Unit and the regular police would end the bizarre killings of villagers.
Interviews with residents indicated that poor coordination of the security operation ordered by Interior minister Fred Matiang’i on Thursday last week when he toured the troubled region with Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.
The GSU officers are reported to have limited their patrols to market centres and major roads as they are unfamiliar with the local terrain, leaving space for the criminal gang to launch surprise attacks and evade detection.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has faulted the deployment of the GSU, insisting that the government should have conducted thorough investigations to fish out perpetrators of criminal activities before deploying the officers.
“We don’t want GSU and I urge the government to employ other alternative ways of restoring sanity in the area,” said Mr Oparanya during a service to mark the 28th anniversary of the Katakwa Diocese in Teso South Sunday.
He went on: “Most of these criminals escape to neighbouring counties and even Uganda after committing these crimes in Kakamega and vice versa. I call for concerted efforts from leaders in the region and security agencies to flush out perpetrators behind these activities.”
In Kakamega, former Sports minister Rashid Echesa, Senator Cleophas Malala and Matungu MP Justus Murunga will be required to report to the western region DCI offices on June 6.
Mr Libinus Odour, the Mayoni MCA, will report to the police on June 7 after DPP Noordin Haji directed the DCI to ensure the Matungu killings are investigated thoroughly.
Senator Malala said he had cooperated with police and recorded a statement but he added that he was disappointed with the rushed arrests before proper investigations had been conducted.
Officers from the regional DCI offices were locked in a lengthy meeting Monday from early morning.
A lawyer representing the senator, Mr Charles Malala, said police had asked the politicians to maintain peace while detectives finalised investigations.
“It is unfortunate that the police rushed to have the politicians arrested and detained without conducting proper investigations in the first place,” said lawyer Malala.
Mr Murunga said the arrests came as a shock to him: “We have all been concerned about the bizarre killings in Matungu and have been working round the clock to ensure those involved are arrested and charged.”
The MP visited the home of the slain boy, a pupil at Bulimbo Star Academy who was stabbed at his parents’ home on Sunday evening behind their house in Simba Wanyika village.
“The killing of the boys is so disheartening. Security officers on the ground need to do more to ensure residents of Matungu live in peace and go about their lives without fear of attacks from the murderous gang,” said Mr Murunga.
The killer gang reportedly struck while the boy’s parents were at evening prayers at a nearby mosque, reinforcing suspicions that the attackers live in the community.
The attack has left security chiefs puzzled as they try to establish the motive for the killings and those behind the murders.
Western region police commander Rashid Yakub visited the scene, a short distance from a neighbouring home where Yusuf Shiundu and his wife Shiro Wanjiku were killed by unknown attackers two months ago.
Mr Yakub said a suspect aged 27 had been arrested in connection with the boy’s killing.
The body of Shiundu was found dumped in river Kholera near the bridge along the Mumias-Bungoma road while that of his wife was discovered in the house.
On Monday morning, the sub-county police commander had to board a matatu to get to the scene of the accident as the police vehicle was reported to have broken down.
Kakamega County Police Commander Mrs Wilkister Verah told the Nation that arrangements had been made to send a vehicle from Mumias town for use by officers in Matungu.
Residents of Matungu have blamed local police chiefs for failing to coordinate the security operation properly giving room for the gangsters to sneak in villages and launch attacks before disappearing into the darkness.
Those who spoke to the Nation said the GSU officers were seen patrolling at roads and market centres when the attacks were happening in rural villages.
“There is very poor coordination of the operation by security chiefs on the ground. As much as the presence of the GSU is expected to boost patrols, it is unfortunate that they are unfamiliar with the terrain in the expansive sub-county,” said a resident who requested not to be named because of security reasons.
Reports by Benson Amadala, Shaban Makokha and Gaitano Pessa