Govt rules out military action against Kapedo bandits


Police in an amoured vehicle doing patrol in Kapedo on January 20, 2021.

Photo credit: Pool

The government will not resort to military action against bandits in Kapedo, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya has said.

The regional boss said regular police officers and those from the elite General Service Unit (GSU) are the only security teams that will be deployed in the area.

“The security situation in Kapedo is under control. We are confident of ridding the region of bandits due to change of tact in the operation,” said Mr Natembeya at a press briefing in Kericho on Wednesday.

He said apart from the four police officers, who were killed before the operation began, no other casualties have been reported in the region.

Mr Natembeya said security has been beefed up in the area and officers have a clear mandate to end perennial bandit attacks.

The government has previously deployed the military in Mount Elgon region to mop up illegal arms when bandit attacks on locals went out of control.

During the operation, the military was accused of violating human rights and dozens of youths were reported to be missing.

Tiaty MP William Kamket and Silale MCA Simon Lotela are under investigation over the Kapedo attacks.

Mr Kamket, a Kanu party legislator was last week arrested in Nairobi and later released on a Sh100,000 bond while Mr Lotela surrendered himself to the police in Nakuru.

Mr Lotela was grilled and later released and is expected back at the regional police headquarters for further interrogation at the end of this week.

It has been claimed that some of the leaders from the region have facilitated the smuggling of arms from the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Sudan that have been used during the attacks.

Legislators and journalists are said to have been trapped for days in Kapedo as attacks escalated, but they were later taken to safety as more police officers were deployed to the area.

At the same time, Mr Natembeya said the operation to rid Kericho County of consumption of illegal brew and third generation spirits would continue.

“We have made good progress on the operation to flush out lotto gambling machines operators, dealers and consumers of illicit brews and third generation spirits in an ongoing operation,” said Mr Natembeya.

He revealed that the operation would be extended to the neighbouring counties in the South Rift region where the vice was most prevalent.