Mt Elgon special report: Class 5 drop-out giving residents sleepless nights.
No one sleeps soundly any more in most of Mt Elgon, thanks to the sporadic attacks by a criminal group known as G-5.
The ruthless G-5, made up of five nucleur members, not only threatens but also maims and kills at will. Investigations by the Star reveal that the group is led by Timothy Kiptanui Kitai, also known as Cheparkach. Cheparkach, which loosely translates to 'someone who kills with a spear' in the Sabaot tribe.
Aged only 35, Cheparkach's name sends shivers to thousands of people in Mt Elgon. The general commander of the group, Cheparkach appears more lethal than the fallen SLDF Commander Wycliffe Komol Matwakei.
General Cheparkach's deputy is his younger brother, Ngeywo Kitai, while Colonel Isaac Mukwawa has been until his death last week the third in command. A clansman of former Mt Elgon MP John Serut, Mukwawa was Cheparkach's 'shamba boy' before the G-5 elevation. Due to his ruthlessness, those in the know say Mukwawa's prime role was to 'finish targets'. Others in the ranks are a Mr Saitoti, a Mr Chebongen and a Mr Sahani - from the Bukusu community.
It is understood that G-5 opted to operate with the limited number of 'leaders' to avoid spillage of information. In circumstances where reinforcements are needed, G-5 activates the services of part-time criminals, most of whom are from the outlawed SLDF. Due to its extensive network, the part-timers not only provide crucial intelligence about the G-5 targets but also host them.
An acquaintance to Cheparkach describes him as a friendly, humble, hardworking and 'serious' farmer. The General's life has been controversial, mostly spent in and out of prison. 'In 2005, he was jailed for life. But he was released in 2011 on presidential clemency. Later on in 2015, he escaped from a police cell in Kimilili after he had been arrested over a robbery incident. He has been on a police watch-list for as long as I have known him.'
While Cheparkach appears to have been born a criminal, security sources say he honed his skills further through his mentor, one Jack Kipsang, a notorious gangster in Bungoma who would later be killed in Kapsabet.
'No one dares talk about G-5. If you must, then you just whisper about it. Even the security agencies seem to fear it. We have seen in several circumstances the group maiming and killing people from scenes less than 100 metres from where the police are based,' said one Chepkurkur resident who spoke to the Star in confidence.
Evoking the awful memories of the SLDF, G-5 has ruthlessly been hunting down its targets, from Cheptais to Kaptama, Chepyuk to Kapsokwony to Chesikaki, without much 'interruption' from security agencies.
Residents allege G-5 is protected. They say its leaders are well known by the GSU, AP, police, and even KDF officers who are based in Mt Elgon. To the residents, G-5 is connected to someone 'big' and could be sharing proceeds of its criminal activities with security agents.
They say if they report to the security agents about G-5, the information ends up with Cheparkach, an indication that G-5 enjoys some ties with the security apparatus.
The claims were vindicated by Deputy President William Ruto's statement on Sunday while in Cheptais that any security agent found co-operating with criminals will be punished.