Suspects who torched a tourist camp sought


An investor from the UK, Mr Peter Jones (left), briefs journalists who visited his Ndarakwai estate which also hosts a tourist camp recently. The property was reportedly torched by Masai herdsmen in November this year, causing a Sh1.5 billion loss. PHOTO | DANIEL MJEMA

By Daniel Mjema,The Citizen Reporter

IN SUMMARY

  • Last month, Maasai herdsmen set ablaze 16 tented camps, 11 vehicles and other properties all valued at Sh1.5bn. Now, authorities are searching for the suspects

Siha. The government has announced a manhunt in a bid to arrest people, including political leaders, who are alleged to be behind the recent torching of Ndarakwai Tourist Camp in Siha District, Kilimanjaro Region.

The camp, with a four star tourist hotel and a large zoo with various animals, is owned by a Briton, Mr Peter Jones.

In the incident which occurred on November 4, this year, 16 permanent tented camps, 11 vehicles and other properties all valued at Sh1.5 billion were set ablaze.

Talking to journalists yesterday, the Siha District Commissioner, Dr Charles Mlingwa, said they have started to gather information, which they would use to trace people suspected to have conspired and planned the attack on a private property.

“We’re continuing with the work of identifying these people who conspired, hatched and committed the crime which led to destruction of so much property. As the government, we believe that this was planned by some people,” he insisted.

According to the district commissioner, the camp is located in Siha District and not Longido as reported by some Maasai pastoralists recently. “Apparently, they used that information as a basis of invading and torching the camp on the pretext that the investor has encroached on their grazing area. But connecting this crime to border disputes is a simple way of looking for excuses to hide the crime which has been committed,” he said.

Dr Mlingwa said he has served as Hai District commissioner for three consecutive years and he cannot recall a single meeting of government or community leaders which discussed the border dispute involving the camp.

He insisted that until now, his office has no report on any border dispute between the investor and the pastoralists.

“We are not going to be averted by anything, the main issue here is that there are people who committed the crime and they should know that this is intolerable. We’re going to hunt them down whether they are in Siha or anywhere else. We’ll bring them to book,” he said.

Mr Jones said apart from the direct loss of property, the fire has made him lose business calculated at Sh210 million from tourists who had booked between November and March next year.

“I’m in my estate and I have a title deed to it. The surrounding villages and I know our borders. There is a need for the law to protect all people equally,” he said.