Poor roads stall burial of raid victims
A common saying in the Pokot culture has it that dead men are ‘useless’. This simply means that when you die, your importance ceases particularly if you died as a result of gunshots from the ‘enemy’.
Thus, bodies of people killed by the bullet are left to be eaten by wild animals like hyenas.
“Due to the harsh terrain and poor roads, we leave behind those killed as we move to safer ground,” said Naudo Assistant chief David Arupe.
This tradition came to the fore following the Monday morning massacre of at least 56 people, mostly women after suspected Turkana raiders descended on Nadome village.
Limited health centers make everything worse. Akwichatis Health Centre is 60km and is the nearest. The center does not have a mortuary and the roads are poor.
Red Cross officials have been walking 40km to reach the villages where the massacre took place. Many bodies are decomposing in the open due to excess heat.
“Even if we were to take the bodies to a mortuary, how will we transport the 56 in an area without roads?” asked a Red Cross official.
The Baringo County Referral Hospital Mortuary in Kabarnet, over 300km away, can only hold 48 bodies.
Senior security officials who flew to the area on Wednesday and Thursday said the bodies would be buried.
Director of Operations, Administration Police Peter Pamba, Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Osman Warfa and the police Deputy Inspector-General Grace Kaindi, said they were tracking down those behind the killings.
“Police will be justified to use reasonable force to apprehend armed bandits who are killing innocent women and children in cold blood and rendering their neighbours paupers in the name of an outdated cultural practice called cattle rustling,” said Mr Pamba.
Body bags had been given to the Baringo County Government to bury the dead, the officials said. But county government men denied any knowledge of such an arrangement.
“We are yet to get any official communication from the government on the burial of the Nadome victims. If the county is to bury the bodies, the government should also liaise with our counterparts in Turkana County as victims were from the two counties,” said Baringo County Governor Benjamin Cheboi on Friday.
He was distributing over 500 computers to 43 schools in the county.
The confusion over the exact number of people killed also deepened with the officers putting the tally at 31 while journalists and Kenya Red Cross who toured the area on Tuesday counted 56 bodies.
Mr Pamba said illegal firearms arms mop up was under way in cattle rustling prone areas as ordered by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery.