The government today dispatched a team of high level detectives, led by director general of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Ndegwa Muhoro, to Laikipia county to open a probe on the murder of Kenyan-British rancher Tristan Voorspuy, as a massive crackdown was launched against illegal herders in the region.
Intensive action, directed from Nairobi by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, was intensified as the United Kingdom urged Kenya to boost security and restore law and order in the volatile area following the killing of Voorspuy who held dual citizenship.
While announcing the crackdown to be spearheaded by Muhoro, Nkaissery linked the murder of Voorspuy, the director of Sosian ranch, to local political incitement.
Nkaissery blamed the recent spate of invasion of private ranches by illegal grazers on incitement by local political leaders.
“Local political leaders have contributed to the tension by making inflammatory statements, and sometimes even blatantly inciting locals to break the law through illegal occupation of private property,” said Nkaissery.
The minister added: “The unfortunate killing of Tristan Voorspuy, the director of the Sosian ranch, is tied to tensions derived from similar circumstances.”
Muhoro today led a team of detectives to the scene of the murder from where the body of Tristan was yet to be retrieved, almost 24 hours after the shooting, due to threats of an ambush by bandits.
By today evening, 379 illegal grazers had been arrested in Laikipia county and were expected to be arraigned in court, Nkaissery said.
The government crackdown came as the British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey called on the government to enhance security in the volatile Laikipia badlands where the rancher was shot dead by suspected bandits backing illegal grazers.
The High Commissioner urged the government to contain the situation that has seen loss of lives and property following invasion of private ranches and farms by herdsmen in pursuit of pasture for their cattle.
Hundreds of heavily-armed herders have, in the past two months, been driving cattle into wildlife conservancies, private properties and smallholdings in Laikipia, and in some occasions have attacked and razed lodges and killed wildlife in conservancies where they met resistance. Most ranchers are of British origin, some of them having inherited the properties from families that have lived there since before independence.
“I welcome the clear commitment at the highest levels to tackle the situation and continue to urge the Kenyan authorities to take all necessary steps urgently to restore law and order and to protect life and property in the area,” Hailey said in statement sent to newsrooms.
He said he had consistently conveyed the United Kingdom’s deep concern at the situation in parts of Laikipia.
Today, Nkaissery who was accompanied by his Tourism counterpart Najib Balala, Environment Cs Judy Wakhungu and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, said the government would not sit and watch private ranches being invaded and taken over illegally.
However, Nkaissery discounted claims that Boinnet had failed to tackle the situation and ruled out the need for military intervention. He added that police are using minimum force in the operation.
So far illegal grazers have been flushed out from 16 ranches such as Segera, Olmaisor, Ngano, Olenaishu, Tango-Maos, Impala, Ol-Jogi,Ngaruo and Kifuko among others.
Balala said tourism partners in government are collaborating to ensure those caught inciting herders to invade private property are arrested.
Nkaissery singled out Bomet governor Isaac Ruto for allegedly inciting citizens against the government.
Wakhungu on the other hand observed that Laikipia ranches and farms hosts wildlife though the Ministry is yet to get a tally of how many animals have been killed.