Sirro: We don’t know the killers’ motive yet

Sunday June 25 2017
pic sirro

Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro speaks at the Tanzania Police School in Moshi yesterday. He vowed to bring killers of law enforcers and local leaders in Coast Region to justice. PHOTO | Dionis Nyato

Moshi. The Inspector General of Police, Mr Simon Sirro, has admitted that security organs are yet to determine the motives behind the killings of police officers and local government leaders in Mkuranga, Rufiji and Kibiti districts in Coast Region.

This is the first time the Police Force is admitting that it does not know why nearly 40 people have so far been killed in the region in a span of two years by unknown assailants. But Mr Sirro, who was speaking yesterday during a passing out parade for immigration officers at the Tanzania Police School in Moshi, assured Tanzanians that they will soon stop the killings and bring perpetrators to justice.

“It is just a matter of time before the perpetrators of the killings are brought to justice,” Mr Sirro said.

The IGP, who was appointed to the post end of last month, said police officers have been conducting operations in the affected areas but are yet to determine the cause or the motives behind the killings.

“I admit that there is a problem in Rufiji, Kibiti and Mkuranga but since we (police) outnumber them, I’m sure we will defeat them (the perpetrators),” Mr Sirro said. “I urge the residents in the three districts to cooperate with the authorities to identify the perpetrators,” said Mr Sirro, adding “I would like to assure all Tanzanians that authorities are working around the clock and the culprits will be brought to justice.”

Since his appointment, Mr Sirro has been more forthcoming and has talked more about the Coast Region killings than his predecessor. He has also increased the bounty from Sh5 million to Sh10 million for people who would volunteer information that will lead to the capture of the culprits.

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Nobody has ever been arraigned since the killings started in earnest in 2015. And the IGP’s admission comes just a few days after two traffic police officers were shot dead in Kibiti while they were on duty. Their car and motorcycle were burnt down.

The police officers slain in the incident were identified as Sergeant Salum and Constable Masola. Just two and a half months ago, on April 13, 2017, eight police officers were killed at Mkengeni, Uchembe Village in Kibiti District. They were ambushed while on their way from duty at a road block.

On Tuesday, President John Magufuli spoke of the killings during his three-day tour of Coast Region, saying that the days of killers were numbered. He said insecurity in the area scared away investors and thus negatively impacting the development of the districts.

The Head of State told Kibaha District residents that he was aware of the challenges they were facing in the region, but asked them to cooperate with the police in identifying the perpetrators of the killings.

“Those who cause insecurity in this region are holding back development efforts. You (residents of Coast Region) know them, and should now identify them, lest, you remain without factories,’’ warned Dr Magufuli during a public rally held in Mlandizi on Tuesday.

Reports show that 39 people most of them local leaders and police officers have been killed in Mkuranga, Kibiti and Rifiji districts.

Despite government’s interventions, cases of sporadic killings have continued to occur, causing residents of the region to live in fear.

On Thursday the Chief of Defence Forces, General Venance Mabeyo, who was expected to visit Kibiti and talk to elders, cancelled his trip citing other important engagement. Mr Sirro visited the area early in June, and held talks with elders.

Meanwhile the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) has said it plans to hold countrywide demonstrations to protest the ongoing killings of law enforcers and local government leaders in Coast Region.

THRDC national coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa said in a statement released yesterday that it urged people living in the affected areas to volunteer information with the authorities by revealing the perpetrators of the killings. “We also urge the government to allow us mobilise countrywide peaceful demonstrations to condemn the killings so that our voices can be heard,” he said.

Mr Olengurumwa called upon the police to apply effective tactics in the fight. “We should, as a nation, unite and put aside our political differences to fight against these terrible incidents against our people,” he emphasized. He urged the government to give incentives or rewards to people, who would volunteer key information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.