Laikipia clashes persist as MPs, cops, barons blamed
Laikipia Senator GG Kariuki says, ‘We are taking the matter seriously but I don’t react to rumours. I want to assure private developers their investments are safe’
Pastoralists and ranch owners in Laikipia county are still fighting over land, as efforts to contain the violence have failed to date.
Senator GG Kariuki yesterday said five people have been killed this week. County commissioner Chege Mwangi said four people have died. But residents say 10 people have been killed.
There are fears some conservancies might collapse as donors reduce funding. Will Jennings’ farm outside Rumuruti was invaded by armed herdsmen on Sunday. They engaged guards in a shootout. No one was killed.
Kariuki yesterday told the Star on the phone the county is “taking the matter seriously”.
He refused to comment on possible withdrawal of donor funding. “The person best placed to talk about conservancies is NCIC chairman Francis ole Kaparo,” Kariuki said.
Mwangi denied politics is to blame for the clashes.
He said 90 per cent of cattle have been driven out of farms and 38 people arrested.
“I don’t react to rumours. I want to assure private developers their investments are safe,” Mwangi said.
On Wednesday last week, Kaparo held a meeting in Rumuruti to discuss security.
In July, resident George Mwai was shot twice during clashes while driving. He is now confined to a wheelchair.
Many farms have been invaded since September, including the Loisaba Conservancy and the 50,000-acre Segera Ranch owned by Jochen Zeitz, the former CEO of global sports brand Puma.
The Tasia community ranch has also been invaded. A group of residents who sought anonymity said politics is to blame.
“The violence hitting Laikipia is a case of militant Samburu politicians grabbing land from other ethnic groups ahead of the 2017 polls. They are using vast numbers of cattle as a weapon to invade land, hoping to drive out the rightful owners and voters from other parties,” a Nanyuki resident said.
“The majority of victims are small holder farmers and poor people. Their maize farms have been invaded and their goats stolen. Guns are being used to threaten people everywhere. This is impunity.”
Another resident said, “It is a myth that this is about poor pastoralists who just need grass due to drought. The truth is that the majority of the cattle are owned by MPs, administration officials, top cops and other rich barons who hide their money in cattle to evade taxes.”
Laikipia is home to people from diverse communities, including the Turkana, Pokot, Kikuyu, Maasai and Samburu.
The Sera Conservancy, which houses black rhinos, was invaded this month.
About 125,000 cattle have invaded farms in Laikipia from Samburu counties in recent months.
Long’or Lowasa, a community leader from Laikipia North constituency, addresses the press at Segera Ranch yesterday