Irate mourners have torched seven houses in revenge attack after a woman was allegedly killed by her stepsons over a land dispute at Riabotenene Village in Kisii.
Hell broke loose for members of the homestead after the body of the 44 year- old widow was brought to her home on Thursday afternoon for burial.
Villagers and mourners descended on the suspects’ homes, broke down doors and windows before setting them alight.
The villagers also chased away the occupants of the houses in an orgy of destruction that saw them pull down the roofs of some of the houses.
Affected family members have since gone missing, fearing reprisals.
Police, who were called soon after the incident, managed to put out the fire with the help of Good Samaritans.
Marani police chief Benjamin Kimwele said the torched houses belonged to the families of four suspects arrested by police following the widow’s death.
Mrs Tabitha Barongo was allegedly dragged from her house in Riabotenene Village by unidentified persons before being strangled.
Her body was found dumped on the road in the neighbouring Samogara Village, about two kilometers from her home.
“We received a report from the assistant chief of Nyabworoba Sub-Location Mr Moses Onkware that the body of a woman had been discovered lying on a footpath,” said county police commander Agnes Mudambi.
“The body had strangulation marks around the neck.” According to Mr Onkware, the deceased was attacked by two men at around 10pm in her home on March 12.
“As they struggled with the deceased, they also strangled her four-year-old daughter who lost consciousness before they threw her body under the bed,” he said.
“She later regained (consciousness) managed to escape from the scene. She ran to a friend’s home about 500 metres away,” said Mr Onkware.
The minor narrated her harrowing ordeal to her mother’s friend, who then notified the administrator.
“I rushed to the scene with a group comprising of community policing members from the village. By the time we arrived, the assailants had left with the woman,” said Mr Onkware.
A search of the area yielded no answers, forcing the group to seek for help from neighbouring villages.
“Later, we were told that an unidentified woman fitting the description of the deceased had been found strangled in the neighbouring Samogara Village,” the chief said.
During the recording of her statement with the police, the minor positively identified one of the attackers as a nephew of the deceased.
Police arrested him along with four other suspects in Homa Bay and Kitale, respectively.
Officers have since taken the minor into protective custody where she is helping them with investigations
“We have the minor in custody for protection purposes so as to prevent interested parties from interfering with the investigations,” the administrator said.
“She is an important eye witness who identified the assailants behind her mother’s death.”
The body was moved to Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary awaiting post-mortem.
It was during the Thursday procession to her home for last rites that tempers flared.
“The three families have not been in good terms, with several deaths that have occurred here being blamed on the row over the land,” a witness, Mr Fred Asuma said.
He said the three families have been squabbling over their ancestral land since the death of Mzee Abere Monyancha, who had subdivided the land prior to his death in 2012.
“Apparently, some family members were dissatisfied with the size of the land they got, leading to the disputes that has culminated in the death of Tabitha,” said Mr Asuma.
Sensi Location Chief Enas Ateka said there has been a long-running dispute over land in Mzee Monyancha’s family.