, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – Holders of illegal firearms in Isiolo, Samburu and other neighbouring districts in the Northern part of Eastern Province and parts of Rift Valley have been given a 30-day amnesty to surrender them.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti said a massive operation to mop up illegal firearms would be launched on the expiry of the one month ultimatum.
“We have given notice to all those people who are holding illegal firearms to surrender them within one month. If they do so, we shall extend an amnesty to them,” Prof Saitoti said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Those who fail to surrender the weapons will be arrested and prosecuted when we start an operation to recover them on expiry of the notice,” he added.
Those required to comply with the amnesty issued on Tuesday are communities in Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia and parts of Turkana district.
Prof Saitoti also warned leaders who have been “inciting local communities to engage in activities of cattle rustling.”
“Indeed, I would like to tell you that we have leading evidence to show that there are some leaders and other people who have been involved in inciting the communities to engage in these criminal activities and we want them to know that we know what they have been doing,” he said.
He pointed out that some of those involved in inciting local residents are “people who hold positions in government.”
He did not name the leaders but revealed that police were investigating them.
The Minister said the amnesty was triggered by the recent incidents of cattle rustling in the region, where over 50 people have been killed since August.
Two weeks ago, 11 people were shot dead when cattle rustlers from neighbouring communities raided homesteads in Isiolo.
In previous weeks, a string of similar incidents have been reported where thousands of cattle were stolen and hundreds of residents killed or wounded.
“We will bring these criminal activities to an end, the police have been instructed and are already doing their job, there is a security operation going on there,” he added.
Commissioner of Police Mr Mathew Iteere later told Capital News that more than 20 suspects had been arrested in a sustained operation which kicked off last week.
“This is an operation which is ongoing… we are going to be tough on them because we want people in that region to live in peace like those in other parts of the country,” he said and added that most of those arrested had already appeared in court where they faced various charges.
And the Minister was categorical that cattle rustlers arrested will henceforth face charges of robbery with violence and murder.
Previously, cattle rustling suspects were only charged with the lesser offence of stealing cattle while others were left to sort out the matter with local elders who, in most cases, demand that the cattle be returned with fines in line with traditional beliefs.
“It is going to be a serious issue. Those found engaging in cattle rustling activities will be treated as criminals and will face the consequences which include robbery with violence and murder if they are found to have killed,” the Minister said.