Mob justice has become a common occurrence in Kirinyaga with 23 stealing suspects having been killed in the past few months.
And condemning the trend, Kirinyaga County Commissioner Jim Njoka appealed to the public to desist from taking law in their hands but instead hand over suspects to mandated authorities for justice to prevail.
“The suspects should not be condemned without hearing and must be given a chance to prove their innocence. I mean why should we result to killing suspects yet we have security officers and administrators where they can be handed over to for investigations?” posed the Commissioner.
Three years ago, eight suspects including a standard eight pupil were killed by a mob in Mathangauta village, Mwea East district on suspicion they were involved in witchcraft.
In January this year, three people including a father and his son were lynched in Mbiri village, Gichugu Division after thieves raided a home and stole some household items. The elderly man was attacked after he tried to defend his son from the mob.
Njoka said the most recent incident involved two suspects who were separately killed at Kutus Town. One was accused of stealing green maize and the other was caught stealing inside a kiosk and killed. Another suspect was beaten to death in the same area on March 7.
Other suspects were killed in Togonye, Gituamba, Karuangi, Ngucwi, and Gachatha, among other villages.
A pastor John Njiru Njagi too was lynched on February 21 this year at Kiriko sub-location for allegedly being involved in the stealing of livestock.
Njoka said the tread must be reversed. “This is the reason we want chiefs and their assistants to be at the frontline to discourage members of the public from taking the law into their own hand,” he added.
He said there are security agents mandated to carry out investigations when such issues occur within the community and Nyumba Kumi should be involved in making sure suspects are handed over to the police for investigations and possible prosecution.
“Chiefs and their assistants who are on the government payroll must wake up and restore the public trust of their ability to deal with crimes within their locality,” he said.
“The public resulted to the lynching of suspects in the past since they claimed the police played tricks setting free the suspects after arrest, which is now a thing of the past. From now henceforth, chiefs and their assistants would be held accountable for lynching of any suspects in their locality. You must teach the members of the public to respect the sanctity of life and let the law take its course,” he said.
Njoka made the remarks in Kerugoya during a meeting with chiefs and their assistants.
By Irungu Mwangi