By Osinde Obare
The young man would pass for any other in the village. His quiet demeanour does not betray his ‘dark’ past, which he is keen to shed.
Robert Matanda was a notorious cattle rustler, who was feared by many. “I killed and maimed many people, young and old, including security officers using illegal firearms,” confessed Matanda, 35.
Matanda was the commander of a group of cattle rustlers that traversed Northern Kenya and neighbouring Uganda stealing cattle.
It all started in 1994 in Katikomor, a remote village in West Pokot, along the Kenya-Uganda border.
As a teenager, Matanda joined some youth to herd cattle for pastoralists. While herding the animals, he was trained in how to handle a gun.
During the training, Matanda hardly ever missed his target. His sharpshooting prowess earned him the admiration of local warriors, who recruited him into their group. “I had nothing to do then and we were struggling to make ends meet at home. I wilfully agreed to join them,” said Matanda.
Months later, he was enlisted into a group of 500 warriors for a raid on a Ugandan village. He had been loaned a gun. He recounted that they engaged the National Resistance Movement soldiers in a fierce gun battle before successfully driving back over 400 head of cattle. More....