13 March 2017

Kenya: Prime Suspect Arrested Over Killing of British Rancher Voorspuy


Police have arrested a prime suspect over last week's murder of British rancher Tristan Voorspuy in Laikipia.

A detective involved in the investigations told Capital FM News that the suspect was arrested Sunday and would be arraigned in court Monday.

"Based on our investigations so far, we have strong reason to believe that the suspect we have in custody was involved in the murder of Tristan," the senior police officer who preferred anonymity said, and referred us to Police Headquarters or CID Headquarters for more information but there was no one immediate response from officials there.

But our police source who is actively involved in the investigation said they will be seeking more time to conclude investigations on the suspect's involvement in the murder as they hunt for two others believed to have worked with him.

"The investigation is a bit complex and that is why we need more time. This is a murder case," he said.

Voorspuy, a British citizen who was born in South Africa, was shot dead on March 6 as he inspected damage caused by illegal grazers who had invaded his Sosian ranch and many others in the expansive region.

Thousands of herders - some armed with spears, others with AK47s - have invaded private ranches and wildlife parks with their livestock, slaughtering animals and destroying property in Laikipia, as they go in search of pasture in the drought stricken-county.

More than 300 suspects were arrested and charged last week over the invasions and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet says police officers deployed there are under instructions to drive out all the illegal grazers from the private farms.

The Member of Parliament for Laikipia North, Mathew Lempurkel was arrested and charged last week, accused of inciting the illegal grazers to storm the ranches in search of pasture.

A local newspaper recently published photos of youths clad in T-shirts with the slogan #TeamLempurkel2017 who were taking part in the invasions. He however, denies inciting them and is out on a Sh200,000 bond.

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey urged the government to "take all necessary steps urgently to restore law and order".

While some have blamed the uptick of invasions on a drought which has pushed thousands of herders with tens of thousands of livestock into the Laikipia highlands, the underlying causes are far more complex.

Competition for land and resources as a result of population growth and a massive increase in the number of livestock has coincided with anger over historical land injustices, climate change, money and politics.

The region has enormous tracts of land owned by white settlers and Kenyan elites.

The decentralization of government after 2013 elections has made the stakes higher for regional power, and politicians are playing on the land ownership issue to win votes.

"Local political leaders have contributed to the tension by making inflammatory statements, and sometimes even blatantly inciting locals to break the law through illegal occupation," said Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery in a statement last week.


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