23 Butchered By Mungiki Followers in a Night of Terror

The East African Standard (Nairobi)/March 5, 2002
By Dominic Wabala

A night of horror and terror perpetrated by Mungiki sect members left 23 people dead in the sprawling Kariobangi North area of Nairobi.

The orgy and bloodbath in which people were indiscriminately hacked to their deaths in bars, streets and even their houses, left residents dazed and in shock.

By yesterday morning, police, with the assistance of street people, were busy collecting bodies from various spots as heavy rains pounded the estate.

The violence left 28 people in critical condition and admitted in various hospitals in the city, with Kenyatta National admitting most of them.

The lightning raid by Mungiki appeared to have caught police flat-footed despite the fact that a revenge raid was expected.

Mungiki people are alleged to have been avenging the killing of two of their colleagues by a vigilante group in the area christened 'Taliban.'

The outlawed sect's members were going for a ceremony in Njurua, Nyandarua, when they engaged the vigilante group in a fight.

All the dead were hacked on the heads, and hands by machetes and axes and their genitals mutilated by over 500 assailants who swarmed into the area in a 45 minute operation.

Most of the dead were unaware of what was happening. They were hacked to death after being confronted by the gang which is alleged to have been ferried to the scene in lorries.

When the East African Standard visited the area at about 3:45am, beheaded and mutilated bodies lay strewn along the deserted but normally busy Kamunde Road off Outer Ring Road.

Two Land Rovers packed with bodies were leaving the area after the police Scenes of Crime (SOC) photographed the scene as armed police patrolled the Kipiriso area.

Mungiki left a trail of destruction in their wake, smashing window panes, doors and motor vehicle windscreens. They stormed bars and other business premises.

Mungiki leaders denied the sect participated in the orgy of violence and promised a detailed statement after consultations.

The Nairobi Provincial Police Officer (PPO), Geoffrey Muathe, who was accompanied by the Provincial Criminal Investigation Officer (PCIO), Gabriel Mutunga, confirmed that 20 bodies had been recovered.

He said that police were still investigating the motive but added that it could be political or tribal.

"We tend to think it is politically or tribally motivated because Kariobangi area has not experienced any tension over rents," Muathe said.

Shocked residents, yesterday morning watched as two more bodies were discovered and taken to the City Mortuary.

According to Muathe, Mungiki reorganised themselves after Saturday's killings and attacked unsuspecting members of the public.

He said that Mungiki used a chant for a greeting and anyone who did not respond was hacked to death indicriminately.

"They slashed many people within a very short time after stealthily sneaking into the area. Police officers could not fire at them because the area is normally crowded and innocent people could have been injured or killed. However, police cordoned off the area and carried out a house to house search," Muathe said.

He said that out of the 28 people who were taken to KNH, three died while undergong treatment but another two were admitted yesterday morning bringing the total of the injured to 27.

So far, police identified only Naftali Otieno who was hacked to death in his house near Gradan United Bar and his genitals removed. He died while his wife Janerose Ochieng watched in horror.

Others include, Patrick Odame Onyango whose body was discovered in the morning in a pool of blood by his wife Hadija Naula Odame.

Three truckloads of General Service Unit (GSU), three others full of Adminiatration Police and a similar number of regular police have been deployed in the area to restore calm.

"We have deployed more security personnel in the area. I have about 10 anti-riot squads and a GSU company has also arrived. We'll deploy more people to ensure security," Muathe said.

However, even as the GSU were being briefed by the Officer Commanding Kasarani Police Division (OCPD), Mr Francis Michieka and the DCIO, Mr Julius Waweru, an enraged gang confronted them but 10 of them were later arrested.

The Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi, in a statement, said that during the warring between Mungiki and 'Taliban' 20 people have been killed and 28 hospitalised.

Kimanthi said that police were called to the area and peace was restored immediately.

He revealed that seven people were arrested on Sunday night in connection with the disturbances and will appear in court soon.

He said that security in the area had been beefed up under the command of the PPO.

" The Commissioner of Police is appealing to residents of Nairobi in general and Kariobangi North in particular to co-operate with security forces to identify all those behind the disturbances so that they can be arrested and brought to justice," Kimanthi said.

The Police Commissioner appealed for restraint as police carry on their investigations. He cautioned people to refrian from thuggery and urged them to share information with police so that investigators work with speed to ensure that those involved are arrested and charged.

Abong'o sent his condoleneces to families, relatives and friends of all those who lost their lives in the senseless and despicable act of violence.

A waitress in Wedewo Bar along Kamunde Road, who requested for anonymity, said that the panga and axe-wielding gang struck at about 8.00 pm.

He said that the gang confronted and attacked everyone who was found walking along the road or in the business premises indiscriminately.

"I was in the bar when they thugs arrived. They confronted a man who had just come from shopping and beat him up.

"As he tried to escape into his house another group attacked him and chopped off his head with a panga.

"One of his killers then grabbed his severed head and put it in a empty milk crate before accosting another man," the waitress said.

She said that the gang attacked an old man who was selling tomatoes and coconuts and hacked him to death as he screamed for help.

She said that they tried to get into the bar but could not enter because of the steel door although they broke windows and smashed vehicles parked outside the premises.

The attackers then chopped at his wares and the stool before attacking other people as residents ran for dear life. Some of the victim's pockets were ripped off and valuables taken away.

Mutua Muthue, another resident said that the attack lasted about 45 minutes after which there was a dreadful silence before the police arrived and started shooting in the air.

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