Return of Mungiki gangs of terror

East African Standard/October 6, 2003
By Joseph Murimi

The violent Mungiki sect which has been linked to a string of incidents of murder and mayhem is trying to resurrect itself.

But the Government has warned that it would crack down on the illegal sect and "wipe them out."

Issuing the warning, the latest of many, National Security Minister Chris Murungaru said: "Some fellows (Mungiki) may be attempting to resurrect it but the Government will crack down on them and wipe them out."

The minister was speaking hot on the heels of chaos in Nairobi on Saturday during which sect members fought running battles with police.

Scores of people were injured and 54 suspected sect members arrested and will reportedly be charged in the week.

The outlawed gang had hijacked a meeting of former Mau Mau freedom fighters and turned it into a Mungiki ceremony.

Police reports of a Mungiki meeting on Saturday at Mowlem in Nairobi's Dandora where member of the sect allegedly drew a pistol and fired at police lend credence to the minister's fears.

According to police sources, the authorities were tipped off that the gang was holding a meeting in the sprawling estate, the scene of some of the most violent Mungiki activities, and swung into action to disperse it.

Speaking in Nyeri yesterday, Murungaru said police have been given firm instructions to deal ruthlessly with efforts by the sect to make a comeback.

The Nairobi mayhem was a pointer to such efforts, he said.

The sect remains outlawed and its members must be arrested and prosecuted, according to the minister.

The Kieni MP, however, gave sect members the option of reforming and becoming ordinary members of society even though the amnesty he had given them earlier had expired.

"I want to reiterate my earlier call to Mungiki that they should reform and become ordinary members of the society and join other Kenyans in nation building," Murungaru said.

The minister claimed that the government had in the past successfully cracked down on the sect and would not allow it to come back. He said police have orders to hunt down the sect and remove it from society.

While the Government has in the past talked tough, its record in apprehending sect members and bringing them to book does not match the rhetoric.

Sect members have gone on record threatening to unleash violence and are still at large.

Earlier in the year, it took months of an alleged manhunt to arrest Mungiki leader Ibrahim Ndura Waruinge, who at one time claimed that the sect had "worked together" with some Narc MPs. He was in any case let off lightly when he was finally apprehended.

Lugari Narc MP Dr Enock Kibunguchy yesterday accused the Government of not doing much to contain the activities of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

Kibunguchy claimed that the Government had all the machinery to identify all the people behind the sect that has been causing terror in the country.

He said it was unfortunate that with all the State machinery the Government has been behaving in a manner to suggest that it was unable to contain the activities of the sect.

The MP urged the Government to crack down on all Mungiki members and make them face the law over the many crimes they have committed.

Speaking to the East African Standard in Kakamega Kibungunchy said even though the sect was outlawed it was operating as if it had the blessings of powerful people.

"When there was a change of guard in the Government we thought all this nasty things will end. However, it is surprising that Mungiki is still in existence but with a new face," said the MP.

Scores of people were injured on Saturday when Mungiki sect members engaged the police in running battles in two separate incidents in Nairobi. At least 69 sect members were reportedly arrested.

Yesterday Kibunguchy said association of some MPs especially from the ruling party with Mungiki was an issue that has to be tackled urgently.

He stated that association of the sect members with MPs was a clear show that the sect was not a group that should be under-estimated.

"If people like Mheshimiwa Koigi Wamwere can take photographs with the sect members then it means that the sect has really spread its roots," said Kibunguchy.

He noted that the Government had all it requires to round up the sect members, have them taken to court and resolve the matter once and for all.

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