By Standard Team.
Hurried funerals without ceremony under instructions from the administration are the new kind of burials in Nyakahura village, Murang’a North District.
Since seven suspected members of the proscribed mungiki sect were shot dead in an oathing ceremony recently, villagers have followed that script during their funerals.
Relatives of a slain Mungiki suspect, Stanely Kimani Kariuki, at his burial at Nyakahuro village in Kangema on Tuesday.
As human rights groups mounted pressure against the police force’s apparent shoot-on-sight policy against mungiki suspects, The Standard traversed villages in Murang’a’s Kangema Division and found parents mourning.
Bernard Kariuki Muragu’s family buried him hastily and without ceremony. No prayers were said and no eulogy was read, just scoops of soil hitting the coffin. Family sources said instructions to bury the body in a hurried ceremony had been communicated to them by the Provincial Administration.
Government does not want long ceremonies. The family was left to come to terms with accusations their son was a member of the underworld criminal gang. “When you have a grown-up son, you can’t control his movements,” said his uncle, Cyrus Wachira. “He was known to be a good man, but you can’t make judgements.” With those few remarks, the funeral was over. A speaker at the funeral, Mr Joseph Maina, said the Government did not want long ceremonies for those who had been killed.
“We all know what happened, so let’s remain calm. When we move to the grave, do not panic,” he told the small crowd that was briefly allowed to view the body before it was laid in a grave dug in a banana grove.
Police claim the 25 young men they shot dead in Murang’a last week were diehard members of the criminal gang.
But their families say their sons were innocent men who had attended a football March that Sunday, July 1, when officers killed them in cold blood.
Who is telling the truth?
The affected families have refused to believe that the young men had joined the murderous gang, and are accusing the police of being “as blood-thirsty as mungiki itself”.
The case against the police is being reinforced by the fact that initially, senior officers said they had killed seven men they found at an oath-taking ceremony in Gaite village.
But 18 more bodies later turned up in three mortuaries across Central Province, where police had transported them under the cover of darkness. Family members believe that by trying to conceal the deaths, police knew they had broken the law and were lying to save their own skins.
Victim left home to watch a football match.
“We are women because we bear children,” cried Ms Nancy Wanjiku, the mother of Charles Mwangi, 19, who was shot dead alongside his five friends from Nyakahura village.
“Children should not be killed like animals. Someone will have to pay for their lives,” Wanjiku on Wednesday. Mwangi, who was jobless, had left home to watch a football match in Ihiga. When news spread that police had killed mungiki suspects, she searched for her son’s body all over the province.
She found it on Thursday – four days later – at Kerugoya District Hospital Mortuary, naked and covered in mud, not that of a man who had been watching a football match. The family of another young man killed, Mr Robert Muiruri, said they had received information he was seen in a police vehicle on Sunday evening.
Muiruri, 26, told a friend that he had been arrested and was being taken to a police station in Nairobi. He was never seen alive again.
Police claimed to have killed seven people.
After agonising over his whereabouts for three days, his bullet-riddled body was found in Keruguya.
“They were taken from here when still alive. We do not know at what stage police killed them,” said Muiruri’s brother, Mr Reuben Kaniaru.
His mother, Esther Mugechi, added: “They wasted the lives of such young people.” Muiruri was a cobbler who also repaired ciondo (baskets) in the village. Muiruri and Mwangi were buried on Wednesday. The funerals of two other young men from the village – Bernard Kariuki Muragu, 23, and Stanley Kimani Kariuki, 30 – were held on Tuesday.
After the Sunday evening killings, a senior official in the Central provincial administration called journalists to request coverage, saying police had shot dead seven people found taking oaths in Gaite village.
Seven more bodies turned up at mortuary. Reporters found only seven bullet-riddled bodies outside a rusty, tin-roofed house.
But as the week progressed, seven more bodies of young men from the same locality turned up the local county council mortuary, six at the provincial hospital in Nyeri and five in Kerugoya.
Mortuary attendants and hospital officials told The Standard the bodies were moved to the facilities by police – again, under the cover of darkness.
Asked whose bodies they were, the Central Provincial Police Officer said he did not know where they had come from. He said he was only aware of the shooting of 12 people.