Kenyan sect leader freed

BBC/April 17, 2003

The leader of a banned sect has been released without charge after being captured by police in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Police said detectives had captured the leader of the Mungiki sect, Ndura Waruinge, when he emerged from his hide-out in the western part of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

But after a court appearance on Thursday morning, he was released without charge and bonded to keep the peace for a year.

The controversial movement, claiming to fight for traditional Kikuyu values, has been blamed for a series of violent incidents, including clashes over minibus routes in Nairobi and Nakuru.

The sect leader went underground three months ago after an incident in which more than 20 people where killed in Nakuru, west of Nairobi.


Nairobi police spokesman Kingori Mwangi said police intelligence led them to discover his whereabouts and they picked him up along with two others.

"We had information, we knew where he was and we waited for him and we were able to arrest him," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

He denied they had received a tip off.

Police say more than 50 people died last year in clashes involving the sect and owners of private minibuses, known as Matatus, in Nairobi alone.

The BBC's Gray Phombeah in Nairobi says that the sect is inspired by the bloody Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s against the British colonial rule.

He says thousands of young and poor Kenyans - mostly drawn from Kenya's largest tribe, the Kikuyu - have flocked to the sect whose doctrines are based on traditional practices.

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