Security team from Kacheliba division of West Pokot County have handed at least 14 cows stolen from Bukwo district in Uganda by suspected Pokot cattle raiders seven days ago.
The animals were returned after intervention by peace committee that has been spearheading peace efforts in once volatile region.
The cows were handed over to the Uganda authority on Friday at Kanyarus border where leaders from West Pokot county and Uganda authority witnessed the process.
The event occurred after new cases of the cattle theft were reported along the border at Kanyerus corridor 10 years after the communities living along the border signed a peace pact and abandoned cattle rustling.
During the meeting the leaders established that criminal activities emerged during corona virus pandemic that has affected the whole world.
The area assistant county commissioner Kelvis Mugutsu warned residents against hiding in corona pandemic as they conduct criminal activities along the border, saying they will not be spared if found.
Mugutsu said reported cases of stolen animals has been witnessed from both sides and appealed to the communities to desist from destroying good relationship the Kenyan government has been having with Uganda.
He said the animals were recovered at Kanyerus thicket after security officers intensified patrols searching for the animals.
“We have made history to return the animals. We need good relationships between people of the two countries .The livestock should graze in either country without any hitch,” he said.
He further urged the Ugandan authorities to be considerate by not putting Kenyans on quarantine every time they cross the border to buy food or check on their livestock.
“Let’s follow Uganda rules while we are in their country, we have been tasked to sustain peace and we encourage leaders and locals to maintain good will,” he said.
The area governor John Lonyangapuo said the cows were handed over to the owner as one way of fostering peace along the border.
Lonyangapuo noted that Kenya and Uganda governments have invested a lot in restoring peace among pastoralists on the Kenya-Uganda border, adding the peace enjoyed along the border for ten years must be maintained
“We cannot spoil peace in a day because of one incident of banditry. We will pursue the raiders and return all the stolen animals. I plead with elders from both countries to unite the communities. We had forgotten about cattle rustling and we should not allow to be taken back to the olden days where this place was turned into a battle field,” he said.
Bukwo district commissioner, Tom Chesol said they were grateful to receive the recovered livestock, saying it is a sign that the communities living along the border were committed to end cattle rustling.
Chesol pointed out that there is need to identify cattle rustlers or criminals within the communities and apprehend them. We must also ensure that there is enough food and water for our people to shun from engaging in criminal activities, “he said.
He called on youth in the area to stop cattle rustling and engage in meaningful development activities, and called on parents in the area to embrace education by taking children to school.
By John Saina