Kenya has established a special squad to monitor and pursue bandits, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki has said.
Kindiki revealed the government has established a High-Level Counter Banditry Land and Air Team (LAT) complete with a Situation Room at the Ministry headquarters to oversight daily progress in this war.
“The government is investing in community-based intelligence, drone surveillance technology, modern personal protection equipment and kitting for our security personnel and application of land and air assets to neuter bandits and rustlers.”
Immediately, he said they must silence the guns in the North of the country.
He added the government will roll out a Marshall Plan to open up this area with social and economic infrastructure projects as the sure way of correcting historical developmental imbalances in the country.
The team will be liaising with those on the ground on developments in pursuing the bandits.
“On behalf of a hurting Nation, I pledge to oversee the complete and permanent end of banditry and livestock rustling in Kenya.”
He added they have stirred and disrupted the banditry network.
“Neither their occasional antics nor the glorification they are getting from a tiny minority of naysayers will deter our resolve to eliminate them and the threat they pose to our country’s search for peace and progress. Of course, we know this being a problem that has spanned decades, it will not go away instantly.”
He argued their resolve as a nation to eradicate this primitive and barbaric crime must remain consistent, focused and resolute.
Up to 279 people were killed in different cattle rustling-related incidents in the country in 2022.
A police report indicates 32 police officers were also killed in the incidents.
Further thousands of animals were stolen and either sold off or traded for cultural events.
And as part of efforts to address the menace, a new commander for the National Police Reservists was last week named in fresh efforts to revamp the unit and bolster operations in cattle rustling-prone areas.
Former Eastern Regional Police Commander Ronald Opili was tasked to take over the new unit consisting of more than 10,000 personnel.
Kindiki said for decades people in these areas have been killed, maimed and dispossessed of their property by murderous gangs of bandits and rustlers.
“Many victims of this terrible crime against innocent civilians resorted to arming themselves to protect their loved ones and their property.”
“Others were driven out of their homes to live in destitution in faraway hideouts. Nothing is more dehumanizing than dispossessing a human being and dislodging them from their home,” he said.
In the last hundred days, he deeply sought to understand the anatomy, pulse and lifeline of this decades-old atrocity of banditry and rustling that has over time metamorphosed into an elaborate criminal enterprise.
“I have come face to face with the unthinkable ruin left behind by cattle rustlers, the orphans and the widows who have been consigned to utter destitution by these felonry anarchists.”
Banditry and livestock rustling have occasioned untold social-economic decay that has in turn worsened the marginalization of affected communities as evidenced by the closure of schools, abandoned market centers and deserted health facilities, he said.
He added many individuals in affected areas had long given up on the government but they are now slowly rebuilding public trust in the security agencies who continue to keep crucial public spaces safe and secure from bandits, livestock rustlers and hordes of other degenerates.
He added in the past three months, 60 percent of all livestock stolen across the ten Counties where rampant livestock rustling has been reported, have been recovered
“Security teams across these counties are actively tracing the missing 40 percent of stolen livestock as law enforcement agencies monitor the meat supply chain across urban areas in the country to disrupt the existing criminal food chain.”
He said they have rolled out robust strategies to disrupt the proliferation of small arms through strategic and intelligence-led disarmament.
This includes involving the local communities in protecting livestock and working on transparent, open, fair and accountable hiring of police reservists in livestock-rustling and banditry hotspots.
He assured the affected communities that we shall crush bandits and livestock rustling and sooner than later we shall make this primitive crime against the people of Kenya part of our history.
Kindiki said he has the support and guidance of the president and has faith that our security agencies especially in the formed units have the capacity to deliver results.
“The Kenyan public is in total solidarity with the victims of this horrendous crime.”
“The combined energy of these support systems will certainly provide the tailwind that we require to permanently vanquish banditry and livestock rustling and eventually embarrass the tiny, unpatriotic minority among us who are still glorifying bandit attacks and their vain antics,” he said in his office.