, NAIROBI Kenya, Nov 6 – A sombre mood engulfed the headquarters of the National Police Service on Thursday as senior officers and families mourned 19 of their kin who were killed in an attack by suspected cattle rustlers in Kapedo, Turkana.
The Administration Police band played a dirge followed by a minute of silence, prayers and sermons for the service that was organised in honour of the fallen heroes who were on a mission to maintain law and order.
“It is well, it is well with my soul,” the police band played.
It was a moment of condoling with family members, reflecting on the sad occurrence in the now infamous valley of death up north.
“We have a good country, a country called Kenya. A country that is very loud when civilians die…a country that keeps quiet when a police officer dies,” Father Peter Kimani who delivered the sermon stated.
“It is as if they were put there to die. This is the question that we need to ask ourselves as a nation; do we have our officers as second hand citizens?”
The solemn ceremony was attended by among others, the family members and friends who were grateful for the government’s support after the incident.
“The Government has supported us in burial preparations and also in consoling us,” Stephen Mwangi who lost his cousin said.Three officers have already been buried.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said 10 suspects have already been arrested over the attacks. He said they are also pursuing leaders who are believed to have been involved in the attack that has left his leadership in the service under sharp criticism.
“Some of these people continue to incite the criminals even now…we will get them,” a visibly irritated Kimaiyo stated.
“It is totally unacceptable for members of the public to arm themselves and attack officers who are just doing their work as it happened in this case.”
He called on legislators to categorise cattle rustling as a crime and not as a traditional activity.
Kimaiyo further accused those blaming the service of incompetence of being inconsiderate of the plight of the families who lost their loved ones, in their effort to maintain peace in the country.
“Our spirits will never be dampened by unwarranted criticisms but rather we will continue to forge ahead in ensuring that our country is safe,” he assured.
In a thinly veiled attack to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), Kimaiyo said it was wrong for people to criticize and offer their opinion when the dead are yet to be buried.
“As the Inspector General of the National Police Service, I can attest that the operational gaps that exist within the service are not about personnel or ability to perform but rather they are in terms of facilitation,” he said.
IPOA on Monday had demanded for the immediate overhaul of the National Police Service command structure, saying it is the main cause of poor response to insecurity.
The authority Chairman Macharia Njeru said the recent killing of security personnel and civilians by ragtag militia is evidence of a lack of preparedness and poor command of the police units.
Njeru who also joined the service in the prayer session insisted that thorough investigations must be carried out and the culprits brought to book.
“Investigations must be undertaken to identify and prosecute those who were responsible for the planning, financing and execution of this act,” he stated.
“That’s the only way we can send a strong message that when you attack a police, there are consequences.”
Nominated Member of Parliament Johnson Sakaja assured the police service that he will be proposing a law that will criminalise cattle rustling. He said the country must come out strongly and condemn any evil act being perpetrated against police officers.
“We also want to ensure police dignity is restored… even over their living standards,” he stated.
“We cannot have a police service which works in shame and yet we expect them to deliver.”
National Police Service Commission Chairman Johnstone Kavuludi also condemned the act.
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