Community policing and public awareness has helped the Kuria community to address the cattle rustling menace.
George Chacha an Activist and Civic Educator in Kuria acknowledged that community policing, peace committees and public awareness have made the community not only police the affairs of their neighbours but also improve the security standards of the Kuria society.
He noted that community policing has helped the Kuria community in the last decade to identify and flash out rustlers.
The policy stipulates that homesteads around or where the last trail of lost cattle hooves end up, approximately 600 feet radius will pay a fine, produce the cattle and the suspects.
Chacha said that although there are still low reported cases of cattle theft, especially towards the circumcision periods the community has remained united in fighting the menace.
“From October this year there are at least three cases of stolen cows that are attributed to the November-December circumcision season among the Kuria’s of Migori, Maasai’s of Trans Mara -Narok, and the Kurias of Tanzania”, noted Chacha.
He advised the Kuria community that even with such security measures they should always be vigilant and take turns to stand guard at night and while in transit.
According to Kuria culture, to be initiated in an age set for those who were circumcised two years ago the initiators are required to give about Sh3, 000 to elders apart from the need for cows as dowry.
Chacha added that this pressure and burden placed on initiation candidates they may be tempted to get involved in unethical courses like stealing their neighbour’s cows to cater for the rituals.
Kuria East District Peace Committee Chairman Mr. Wambura Mtatiro said they have increased intelligence gathering, especially during the current circumcision period to curb the vice.
Mtatiro disclosed that some cases of cattle theft are often sorted at the community level through the peace committees if both parties are willing to resolve the matter amicably.
“In yesteryears, people were sleeping with their animals in their houses for fear of theft. The community feared traveling far because of the rampant cattle rustling that used to happen. The frustration infringed on the free movement of people and activities that forced the community to start community policing”, affirmed Mtatiro.
Mtatiro emphasised that Peace Builders from the county, national government, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have helped the community through sensitisation on matters of security, health, and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
He pointed out that FGM was one of the major reasons for cattle rustling but the fight against the vice has also witnessed a drastic reduction of cattle rustling in the Kuria region.
By Geoffrey Makokha