Women in Ukasi, Mwingi East, have defied tradition by taking up arms and joining vigilantes to protect their families from murderous Somali bandits. Traditionally, among the Kambas women do not wield bows and arrows.
But in Kathungu village women were spotted on Monday carrying bows and arrows, keeping vigil. The village on Friday was the scene of a vicious clash between locals armed with bows and arrows and Somali bandits armed with automatic rifles.
Earlier in the day the bandits had shot dead Simon Matei in Katangini village. On New Year they gunned down herdsmen Musomba Makio and Kimwele Murami in neighbouring Inyanzae village, Ngomeni ward, forcing residents to flee their homes.
On Monday the bandits raided Tumbili village, Ukasi ward, at noon and opened fire at villagers. No casualties were reported but four people – Voya Mathuva, Kimwele Kang’ata and his siblings Nzula and Kimende – were reported missing after the attack.
“We have no choice but to take up arms to protect our families, especially our children, and property against the armed gangs. As women we act as a back-up for our men who are patrolling the thicket to ward off further attacks by the marauding killer bandits,” Ruth Mwende said.
She spoke to the media who had accompanied a security team that visited the area on Monday, led by the Mwingi Central acting police boss Alice Kinywa and DCI’s Simon Mwongela. Area MCA Nelson Kitema was also in the entourage.
At a public security meeting in Sosoma village, residents said they have lost confidence in the government’s ability to keep them safe. “The kind of ineptitude and lethargy displayed by police in pursuing bandits whenever they struck is dismaying,” Kitema said.