Tension was building in Kuoyo village in Odhiambo Rambo sub-location in Ndhiwa sub-county as residents searched for suspects accused of stealing and slaughtering cattle before selling the meat.
Angry villagers torched six houses in three different homesteads on Sunday afternoon after the homeowners were accused of being behind the theft of cattle that is rampant in parts of Homa Bay and Migori counties.
There have been reports of farmers losing their livestock to theft in some of the villages as residents urged greater vigilance.
Criminals have also been maiming animals and leaving them to die.
Authorities are yet to understand the reason behind this practice.
In the latest incident, criminals raided homes in Kadem in Migori County on Saturday night and stole eight cattle.
Other farmers from Kanyatodo in Ndhiwa also reported their animals missing.
News about the theft spread across the two regions before residents armed themselves on Sunday morning to search for their lost animals.
They were armed with machetes, spears and other crude weapons.
North Kaganda sub-location Assistant Chief Netto Aketch said the suspects used a pickup truck to steal three bulls from Kadem and drove them to Homa Bay.
They drove to Kalamindi village and dropped one animal at a homestead where they started slaughtering it without the consent of the homeowner.
“The home belongs to a senior citizen. The suspect might have thought that her son was away. That is why they decided to slaughter the bull there,” Mr Aketch said.
But the suspects were confronted by one of the woman’s sons at the homestead and took off halfway through slaughtering the animal.
Some of them were identified as they ran away.
Residents who were investigating the case decided to go after the suspects the following day.
Mr Akech said villagers from Kadem and Kanyatodo went to the homes of the suspects and torched houses.
They also destroyed crops and other property they found there.
“Villagers recovered eight cattle, including the one that was slaughtered. They were taken to the Ndhiwa Police Station as investigations into the incident started,” the administrator said.
One suspect was arrested and detained at the Ndhiwa Police Station.
Mr Akech warned members of the public against taking the law into their own hands.
Ndhiwa Sub-County Police Commander Paul Rioba said investigations into the incident were underway.