A Lugari family cry for justice after kin shot and killed by forest guards

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A family from Lumama village in Lugari, location, Lugari Sub County, is crying for justice after their kin was shot dead by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers.

The deceased Jethro Opala aged 33 was reportedly found within Lugari Forest by forest guards who were on regular night patrol.

According to the victim family led by his wife Miriam Okwiri, her husband left home to harvest sand in the forest when the tragic incident happened.

“My husband left home on Tuesday afternoon to collect sand and was to be back home by 7pm. When it reached 10pm I got worried, I called his mobile but the number was busy. The following day I overheard people talk about a shooting in the forest only to later learn my husband had been killed and the body taken to Webuye mortuary,” she noted.

Rachel Kayenza a relative to the deceased said their kin was killed through mistaken identity.

“Opala has been harvesting sand for the last five years. He was the breadwinner for his young family. Investigation agencies should intervene and help us get justice,” she noted.

A herdsman who was grazing livestock near the forest and heard people saying a man had been killed while harvesting in the forest rushed to inform Opala’s family. .

“The herdsman rushed and informed us; we left to check at Webuye Mortuary where unknown person had been taken by the police. We were shocked to find his head pierced into with a bullet, his hands and legs had been tied with a rope. This is inhumane and no one deserves to die that way,” said Loice Amboyi a family member.

Another resident Alfayo Muchilwa said this was not the first incident of a person being killed in the forest.

“People are being killed yet no one is coming to our rescue to determine why. This is a young man with two children below four years. Investigations should be done and perpetrators brought to book,” Muchilwa said.

Confirming the incident, Lugari Sub County deputy police commander William Kaptich said the victim defied orders by Kenya Forest Service officers who had requested him to surrender after he was found cutting trees in the forest.

The victim is said to have attacked the officers with a panga prompting them to shoot and kill him.

“Kenya Forest Service officers were doing patrol at around 10pm on Tuesday night when they spotted a man cutting trees, he tried to run away and attacked the rangers with a panga forcing them to shoot and kill. DCI is investigating the case,” said Kaptich.

Kaptich asked locals living near the forest not to get into the forest without permission since it will lead to confrontation between them and the officers.