How brave girl saved learners from bandits

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022 00:00 | By
Sylvia Losekorov, 16, a student from the Pokot community begged bandits in her local dialect not to kill her colleagues after their bus was ambushed in Kerio Valley last week. She is recuperating in hospital after she was shot in the leg. Courtesy

Wycliff Kipsang

A school trip turned into a nightmare and near death experience for Tot Secondary School students in Elgeyo Marakwet. 

Pokot bandits emerged from the bushes shooting indiscriminately. However, bleeding from a gunshot wound on the leg and in excruciating pain, Sylvia Losekorov summoned courage and confronted their would-be killers.

Switching to her Pokot dialect, Sylvia, a Form Two student, confronted the bandits, asking them why they wanted to kill innocent students who knew nothing about the age-old conflict between her community and the Marakwet.

“These are just innocent children and they know nothing about the conflicts here, have mercy on us,” Losekorov reportedly told the bandits, pleading with them to stop firing. At this point, the bandits had already killed the bus driver and injured several students and teachers.

The guns went silent and the bandits fled to the bushes. 

“It took us time to realise the bandits had disembarked from the bus and fled into the darkness,” said a Form Two student who was on the ill-fated trip last Thursday.

Losekorov, who hails from Tiaty sub-county in the neighbouring Baringo county, had suffered gunshot wounds to her leg shattering her bones. “It would have been worse. We thank God for the timely intervention,” said Gibson Tirboy, a parent at the school. 

“They heeded her plea and disappeared into darkness. It would have been disastrous,” a teacher who witnessed the ordeal told People Daily. 

Most victims admitted in various hospitals said the bandits, who were talking in their dialect, seemed to have been on one mission - to kill and maim. “They were firing shots in all directions. Our bus suddenly came to a stop only to realise that our driver had been shot dead. It would have been fatal had the bus been speeding,” said a student who survived the ordeal. Losekorov’s intervention has become the talk of town in the entire banditry prone Kerio Valley and catapulted her to some heroine status among the Marakwet, the dominant community in the county with local leaders among them Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen volunteering to pay her entire school fees.

Timely intervention

Unknown to many, Sylvia had just recently buried her father, a renowned horticulture farmer in Kerio Valley, a victim of a bandit attack.

On the fateful Thursday, the students and their teachers were from an academic tour in a convoy of three buses when they were ambushed near Chesuman Primary School by armed bandits. 

Eight of the injured were treated and discharged while two teachers and four students are still admitted at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret where medics say their lives are out of danger.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Maalim Mohammed yesterday assured the students of their safety, adding that the schools are being manned round-the-clock by armed security personnel.

“We have also engaged experts who are carrying out counselling sessions for students and the teaching fraternity,” said the administrator.  Mohammed has since convened a meeting with all County Commissioners and principals from all the banditry prone counties in Rift Valley next week in preparation for the forthcoming national examination.

“We want to put all logistical arrangements in place to ensure that national examinations kick off and continue without any hitches,” said the administrator.

According to the administrator, a security operation has already been stepped up to flush out bandits in the Kerio Valley region. 

He directed all principals in the region to adhere to the Ministry of Education directive banning night travel of school buses beyond 6pm. 

“Those that find themselves out of school beyond this time should report to the nearest police station for further direction,” directed the administrator.  

The death of the school driver brings to more than 60, the number of people killed in the past three months in the restive Baringo, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. This was not the first time students were coming under attack from bandits in Kerio Valley.

In January, daring bandits shot in the air as they made away with livestock. The shots made students of St Benedict Arror Girls hide under tables.

During a meeting with leaders from the banditry prone region in Nakuru a fortnight ago, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i ordered for the immediate arrest of people inciting the herders to turn against each other and those said to be funding the conflicts.

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