Man Killed For Allegedly Burning Charcoal At Mt. Elgon Forest


Mt. Elgon Community Forest Association members have come up in arms to protest against the alleged killing of one man in Kamuneru Forest on Monday.

31-year-old Sammy Kibet Thomas lost his life at the heart of Kamuneru Forest, where, according to police reports, he was burning charcoal illegally.

However, according to some CFA representatives and members who visited the scene immediately after the incident, there was no evidence of any forest distraction, let alone any cut or burned trees.

“We started hearing gun shots at around 6 a.m. Monday morning, and by 8 a.m. we learned that Sammy was dead; he hadn’t destroyed anything, and even if he had been found guilty of anything, we could have been consulted as CFA representatives,” Martin Makan, a Kamuneru CFA representative, reported.

He further stated that the foresters in the region have in the recent past harassed and apprehended locals haphazardly to the extent of conducting unwarranted searches in people’s houses at night.

Violet Chelang’a, Kamuneru CFA firewood user representative, is also a victim of circumstance, for she lost her husband to such a tragic incident in 2017 and has never gotten justice to date.

“It is unfathomable that we will keep losing lives in the name of protecting our forest; it’s only prudent that the newly deployed foresters seek guidance from us on how best we can conserve our forest and still protect lives because this is not the first incident,” bemoaned Chelang’a.

While addressing the media after a security meeting held in Kapsokwony, Elgon ward MCA George Kwemoi (on behalf of his colleagues) condemned the killing in the strongest terms possible, advising that the man could have otherwise been apprehended and let the law take its course instead of ending such a young, vibrant life.

“It is disheartening that we are now exchanging human lives with trees; this should not be the case. It’s not right that a young man is down for alleged charcoal burning whereas the cartels and major criminals are walking free; justice must prevail,” highlighted Kwemoi.

He, on the other hand, divulged that as leaders, they have deliberated on the matter and are still working out an amicably lasting solution to ensure the coexistence of forest users and foresters.

“Mt. Elgon forest is on the boundary of Uganda and Kenya, meaning if the forest is left unattended, it’ll be porous and invasion will be inevitable. This is why grazers should be allowed to remain and provide security under deliberate conservative actions,” suggested Kwemoi.

On the government’s directive to evacuate the forest, the MCA revealed that the forest users who are currently cultivating have been given a grace period of up to January so that they can harvest their food, which serves the entire Western region.

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