'Mungiki's' Revenge

The Nation (Nairobi)/April 5, 2004

Nairobi -- Casualties are mounting in a vicious hunt by Mungiki diehards for former insiders who now pose the biggest threat to the outlawed society.

Stripped of the means to extort daily levies from matatus in recent transport reforms and driven out of slum caves and city centre hideouts thanks to precise information provided by defectors, never has the going been so bad in the chequered history of the movement started in 1985.

Dissent in the sect has created a treasure trove of information for security forces including a list of sect members, a list of contributions made by members and other documents on the group's possessions were seized.

The information the defectors provided has since led to the raiding of the sect's headquarters in Mukuru kwa Reuben by police. The information also led to the arrest of Mr Maina Njenga, widely believed to be the spiritual leader of the sect. He was arrested in the company of three women and three men also believed to be sect members.

Having the time of their lives in the hunt

Mungiki diehards fear that former members, who have been visiting the police, the provincial administration and even the National Security Intelligence offices providing the security agencies with information on the group, are the prime enemy.

But while security forces are having the time of their lives in the hunt for Mungiki, the defectors are living their worst nightmares. This past week, they were seeking audience with National Security minister Chris Murungaru to address their security having previously held discussions with the Nairobi PC Francis Sigei and his deputy.

This past week also, yet another Mungiki defector went missing. Ng'ang'a wa Muthoni, a street preacher along Racecourse Road in Nairobi was last seen on Thursday evening. It is believed that he was lured by a woman to a trap laid by Mungiki diehards at Eastleigh.

His wife, Sarah Muthoni Ng'ang'a, a mother of one, reported the disappearance to Kamukunji police station at the weekend.

The news will be a setback for a special squad of over 100 officers from five security units formed recently to try to wipe out the group. Members of the squad are drawn from the regular police, GSU, Administration police, CID, Flying Squad and special anti-crime unit.

The crack squad has netted over 10 national and regional leaders of the sect during raids in Dandora in Nairobi and Juja in Thika district.

Other key figures fleeing the crackdown are said to be hiding in Embu, Eldoret, Kericho, Nyeri, Nakuru and Machakos town, police sources said.

The police fightback followed a spate of tell-tale Mungiki revenge killings. Defectors have been forced into hiding after information reached them that sect's diehards have orders to execute them before they provide security forces with any more potentially damaging information.

Three former members who left the group last year after Dr Murungaru declared an amnesty for members who quit the gang, have already been eliminated by a revenge squad set up soon after the much-publicised defections. Several others have been kidnapped over the past three months as dissent spreads within the movement.

A couple that had openly renounced membership of the group was shot dead by gunmen at their Kiamaiko slum home as their three children watched.

Two gunmen burst into the home of Pastor James Irungu Njenga alias Wakaguku and pumped several bullets into him, then turned the guns on his wife Florence Muthoni as she screamed for help.

Pastor Njenga was an active member of the sect, but quit a few months ago to become a Christian preacher. The attack occurred in the same week that another defector, Mr David Waweru Kabia, went missing. His wife has visited all police stations in the city to no avail.

Yet another defector, Mr Jacob Nderitu Karanja, was hijacked on January 30 at around 8 am on his way to visit a friend at Kariobangi, Nairobi. He had travelled to Kariobangi from his Githurai home.

Reporting his colleagues to police instead of the sect

He has not been traced to date despite his relatives' attempts to locate him.

A friend said that Mr Karanja had been attacked at home a week earlier by Mungiki adherents, who stole the sound equipment he used in preaching. Defectors said he was killed for reporting his colleagues to police instead of reporting to Mungiki leadership.

The evidence that he had reported to the police was in his pockets - a police warrant of arrest for his attackers.

The shooting to death of a 21-year-old man in Soweto slums, Nairobi, is also cast by Mungiki defectors as a revenge killing by seven armed men who they say mistook him for a former sect member. A second person, who was in the company of the deceased, was seriously injured during the shooting incident.

Yet another defector was murdered in mid-February and his mutilated body thrown into Nairobi River behind Riverside Hotel. Maina alias Mabro's body had been skinned and some body parts mutilated.

It is understood that many defectors have left Nairobi and gone to their rural homes or other hideouts.

Following the killings, the PC met 10 representatives of the defectors while in the company of a section of the provincial security team.

Among those who attended the three-and-a-half hour meeting at the PC's boardroom were Mr Sigei, his deputy Mr Ali Bwalali, Nairobi provincial police boss Mr Jonathan Kosgey, the provincial CID Boss and the provincial intelligence chief.

The team decided to form a special crack squad of officers from paramilitary General Service Unit and Administration police specifically to fight the sect.

Sources told the Nation that the defectors were harshly critical of regular police for the revenge murders because the three former sect members murdered by Mungiki had reported their fears to Kamukunji police and Central police stations in Nairobi. However, they said, police failed to act on the report made making it possible for the murders to take place.

Revealed hideouts and its mode of operation

The crack squad was detailed to act on the information provided by the defectors to wipe out the sect.

This has set the stage for a major battle as the group tries to cover its tracks by eliminating former members.

There is no shortage of vital information for security agents seeking to stop the revenge squad. Defectors from the group revealed to the Nation the sect's hideouts and its mode of operation.

The sect's headquarters, the defectors said, are in Mukuru kwa Reuben slums in Nairobi where its secretary resides.

It also has a farm in Laikipia district where "state house" is located.

The sect has cells in Riverside in the city centre, Mwiki, Kayole, Lunga Lunga, Kawangware, Githurai Kimbo, Juja, Rongai and Mukuru kwa Reuben among other places in Nairobi.

It also has hideouts in Mombasa, Murang'a, Nakuru, Nyeri and Laikipia among other districts.

The group also operates a poultry farm in Kitengela.

The cell in Riverside which is referred to as "Bargation", the source said, is the most dangerous one.

It is responsible for most of the mass murders in Nairobi and violent crime. The cell, our source said, was the one responsible for the Kariobangi mass murders.

Demand money protection money in city estates

The sect's leader takes the cell, which is made up of over 50 members, as his paramilitary unit

The group members divide themselves in platoons. Every platoon has 10 members and a leader.

The platoon leader is given the responsibility of collecting money from the bus terminus they control and coordinating other members activities including crime.

Among the sect's fund raising techniques are extorting from matatu drivers, controlling bus terminus, violent crime and contribution from rich members.

Though the group is not known to deal in drugs, a defector said the snuff they use contains drugs.

They also demand money from households in certain estates in order to "maintain security" in the estates.

Among the matatu routes the group exercised control over before the transport reforms are Kayole route 1960/1961, Dandora-32/42, Huruma-46 and Kariobangi - 14, 28, 40.

It also controlled other routes outside Nairobi.

The group collected at least Sh10,000 a day per route at the height of its blood-soaked reign.

Extortion and voluntary contributions from matatus continue. One of the defectors told the Nation that the sect members have been taking Sh200 from drivers violently. He said the members intimidate the drivers by showing them guns.

However, he says, some of the drivers are still members of the sect and therefore give willingly.

He says the system of issuing Good Conduct Certificates did not prevent Mungiki members from getting back to the matatu business.

Besides, all members are required to pay one shilling everyday to the sect's National leader. The Sh30 is delivered to the leader every month (see separate story).

In Mathare, Mlango Kubwa and St Teresa's estate in Eastleigh, the sect members demand Sh50 a month from every household to maintain security.

In Mathare slums the group changed its name to "Wazalendo" and are pretending to be security agents.

He says they have been making electric connections from power lines to some houses and charging monthly fee of between Sh100-300 a month to the residents.

The money collected by the members from different sources, the sect defectors said, is distributed four ways - members salaries, contribution to the sect chairman, to buy weapons for members, including guns for senior members and finally a share goes to bribe the government's security system particularly the police collaborators.

And as a pointer to the struggle that lies ahead, defectors said that members' guns number 300 Dandora estate alone.

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