The border town of Taveta in Taita-Taveta County was on Saturday transformed into a scene of carnage after hundreds of enraged Boda boda riders lynched one man and injured scores of police officers during a violent protest against mysterious murder of a rider.
The protests also saw two high-end vehicles torched while two police cars were also partially damaged after their wind and rear screen were shattered.
The riders at dawn raided the home of a man whom they accused of being part of a theft-ring that had been killing riders and stealing their motorbikes.
The riders dragged the man out and viciously attacked him while demanding to disclose his accomplices. They proceeded to torch his house before leaving with the suspect to hunt down a prominent businesswoman who was allegedly accused of being the mastermind.
By the time police responded, the riders had already lynched the first suspect and were baying for the blood of the second suspect.
The victim who was lynched was later identified as Emmanuel Merire, aged 28.
In a bid to contain the riots, police used teargas and fired several warning shots in the air to disperse the riders but the charged crowd did not budge.
The riders’ numbers kept on swelling until the police were on the verge of getting overwhelmed. They managed to rescue the second suspect identified as Mwanaisha Shaban and took her to an undisclosed location.
Taveta Sub-County Police Commander Mr. Charles Barasa said there were no injuries on the part of the public because the security agencies acted with a lot of restraint.
However, three police officers, including him included, sustained injuries during the confrontation after they were pelted by stones.
“Some officers were injured but we managed to rescue the woman from the house. She is in safe custody. The situation is tense but we have it now under control,” he said.
The riders burnt two vehicles; a Subaru Forester owned by Mwanaisha Shaban and a Land Rover Discovery belonging to Mwanaisha’s sister. They also torched her palatial home in the Timbila area.
A vehicle attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) in Taveta and a Land Cruiser attached to the Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) had the front and rear windscreens smashed respectively.
Police say that during the daylong running battles, several business premises were looted and transport business disrupted, as roads remained closed.
A rider who declined to be named said, the woman suspect was the mastermind of a cartel that had been terrorizing riders and other motorists in the region. He claimed that she was protected by unknown people and that made her very influential.
By Sunday morning, uneasy calm had fallen over the border town though most business premises remained closed for fear of more spontaneous riots.
Police reinforcements were deployed from as far as Voi Police Station to support efforts to bring peace to the troubled town.
There are also reports that leaders in the region are organizing a meeting between Boda boda riders and the security agencies to thrash out issues and avoid such confrontations.