MPs pledge action as men killed at KDF land buried

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 04:51 | By
Coffins bearing the bodies of four men, who were found dead at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) land in Eldoret, during a requiem mass at Kolongei Primary School grounds in Uasin Gishu County yesterday. PHOTO/Wycliff Kipsang

Emotions ran high yesterday at Kolongei Primary School grounds in Uasin Gishu County during the requiem mass of four young men who were last week found dead at a land owned by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) at Moi Barracks in Eldoret.

Daniel Kiprotich, Cornelius Kipkoech, Kenneth Kipkemei and Shadrack Kipkemei are believed to have met their deaths on the night of November 25 when they allegedly trespassed in Ngano Farm which is owned by KDF to collect remains of a maize harvest.

At heir burial yesterday, local leaders vowed to seek a solution to the long-running animosity between KDF and residents bordering Moi Barracks.

There has been bad blood between the soldiers and locals which has in the past led to deaths.
Turbo MP Janet Sitienei, Julius Rutto (Kesses) and Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii regretted that the animosity had resulted in loss of lives.

“We will seek an end to the conflict. This animosity between the residents and the soldiers must come to an end. We will be seeking answers on the floor of the House,” said Rutto.

Sitienei said the government’s compulsory land acquisition policy should be reviewed to ensure that those affected are fully compensated.

“This land issue has been there since the tenure of President Daniel arap Moi. We acknowledge the importance of land use by the government. However, the welfare of those who have been occupying the land should be put into consideration,” said Sitienei.

Blunt trauma

A postmortem examination carried out on the bodies of the four men at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) revealed that they were beaten to death using blunt objects.

Government Pathologist Johnsen Oduor, who conducted the post-mortems, said the internal bleeding was caused by blunt force trauma.

“We established that the cause of the deaths was as a result of internal bleeding which was caused by blunt trauma on the lower parts of the body, in their behinds and legs and lower back. It looks like they were beaten repeatedly, and they bled till they died,” explained Dr Oduor.

People Daily established that the men met their deaths while collecting remains of maize harvest on Ngano farm owned by KDF.

Locals, including children, usually scavenge for maize remains locally known as “turonik”.

Residents who spoke to People Daily said they usually go to the farm to collect the remains of the maize after harvest by a combine harvester but no such incident had been reported in the past.

“This is the first time we are losing lives as a result people going to the farm to collect maize remains. We appeal to President William Ruto, whose home is not far from here, to ensure the victims get justice,” said Paul Tirop, a resident.

A row has been brewing over KDF’s move to acquire more than 1,800 acres of land for creation of a buffer zone between residents and the Kenya Ordnance Factories Corporation (KOFC) situated at Moi Barracks, Eldoret.

Last year, two people were shot dead following a confrontation between KDF officers and residents of Chebarus area in Turbo constituency.z

The military has insisted that they have to hive off the land which will act as a buffer zone between the KOFC and residents but the residents want to be allocated title deeds before they can negotiate with the military over acquisition of the land.

The squatters who were displaced after the government acquired the land want to be allocated an alternative settlement and allowed to cultivate part of the idle land belonging to the Department of Defence.

Residents claim they were allocated the 5,339 acres of land bordering the barracks by President Moi in 2000 but they only got 4,236 acres.

At the centre of the controversy is 1,579.02 hectares, the squatters want the Department of Defence to surrender to them.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale recently said plans by the government to expand the factory had been hampered by presence of squatters.

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