‘Return 48 goats in two days, or we take yours’

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A goat for a goat.

The government has issued a two-day ultimatum to one of Tana River’s warring communities accused of murder and goat theft.

Return the 48 goats you stole or we will take 48 of yours and hold them until the stolen goats are returned.

That’s what Coast regional commissioner John Elungata told elders from the Orma and Munyoyaya communities after a closed four-hour security meeting in Madogo.

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The goats had been rounded up and driven away from grazing fields on the outskirts of town. Three people were also killed on Monday in a vicious land dispute.

If the stolen goats are not returned, in two days, Elungata said, the accused community should be ready to produce a similar number of goats “to be withheld until the 48 are brought back”.

He said the 16 goats stolen in retaliation should also be returned in two days.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right. It instead worsens the problem. Let us desist from taking revenge,” Elungata said.

The meeting was called after three people were killed in a dispute over who are the original landowners in Madogo.

Several houses in villages occupied by the two communities on the outskirts of the town were torched on Monday and Tuesday. Police from Bura Bura subcounty quelled the situation.

Tension remains high but businesses that had closed for fear of looting had started to reopen.

Madogo  on the busy Garissa-Nairobi highway and is one of the fastest growing centres bordering Garissa town. Land prices are rising. 

There has been simmering tension for the past one week with each side claiming to be rightful ‘owners of Madogo’.

Elungata directed DCI officers to ensure the murderers are arrested and prosecuted.

“The DCI is under instruction to ensure the perpetrators of the clashes are brought to book. Those who incited and carried out the attacks don’t belong to any of the communities but are criminals who should be prosecuted,” Elungata said.

He urged the residents to volunteer information on the criminals  in your midst”.

“We still want the youths who went to the villagers to maim the residents, including those who drove away the goats from both sides and those who aided them in any way. We must clean our society,” he said.

The regional commissioner said reinforcements brought in from Tana North will remain in the area under the command of the county police commander until calm returns to Madogo.

He cautioned those using social media platforms to incite communities that “you will be prosecuted.”

Elders who spoke urged the security agencies to thoroughly investigate “who shot and killed one of the youths”.

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