The newly posted Rift Valley Regional Commissioner (RC), George Natembeya has put cattle rustlers on notice, saying the government will take stern action against anyone found engaging in the retrogressive practice that is the cause of insecurity especially among pastoral communities.
Natembeya, formerly Narok County Commissioner has been elevated to take over from Mongo Chimwaga who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Interior as Secretary National Administration.
He said it was unfortunate that while the government is working hard to develop these areas that were previously marginalized, this outdated practice was eroding all the gains made.
Noting that the vice had reached dangerous proportions with innocent people losing their lives in the process, Natembeya warned political leaders inciting locals into acts of cattle rustling or turning a blind eye to the practice that their days were numbered.
“We are calling for calm among feuding members of the communities that have been in conflict over pasture and cattle raids. Inciters will face the full force of the law. You cannot be a hero by killing women and children just to steal animals. The culture of impunity has to be brought to an end,” he said.
Speaking when his predecessor handed over to him at the Rift Valley Regional Headquarters offices in Nakuru, Natembeya said his priority will be to mop up illegal firearms within all the counties in the region that have been used to perpetrate criminal activities.
The administrator asserted that he was determined to stop further encroachment of the Mau Forest Water Tower and warned that government officers found engaging in unauthorized logging activities would be arrested, prosecuted and dismissed from public service.
Chimwaga called on political leaders and community elders to cooperate with government agencies in restoring peace and tranquility among communities that had experienced conflicts due to pastures, cattle rustling and land.
He urged communities particularly in the North Rift to discard outdated cultural practices such as cattle rustling and female genital mutilation which had disrupted learning activities in the affected areas.
“Those who have made cattle rustling their source of income should find something else to do,” he said adding perpetrators risked long jail terms.
In apparent reference to rustling, the two administrators urged pastoral communities to discard outdated cultural practices and engage in farming and other income generating activities.
“These counties are blessed with rich agricultural soils suitable for farming. It is time we discard reliance on livestock alone and invest in agricultural activities,” said Chimwaga.
Natembeya vowed to promote education activities in volatile regions that had for decades been under grip of banditry and cattle rustling.
“We are very a live to the fact that in certain areas of this region, parents would rather train their children in the use of firearms and cattle rustling practices rather than take them to school. That primitive attitude must be nipped in the bud,” said the new RC.
By Anne Mwale/Dennis Rasto