Police caught napping again as sect strikes
Story by MICHAEL MUNGWANG’A
Publication Date: 4/15/2008
Mungiki sect members struck again in Nairobi, burning vehicles and damaging property.
Scores of night guards at various targeted premises related how the youths arrived at 5am armed with petrol bombs chanting slogans in support of jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga.
By the time they were through, businesspeople were left counting their losses as Nairobi workers walked to work.
More than 30 vehicles — matatus, private cars and trucks — were set on fire along Outering Road, while more were torched in Kawangware, Dandora, Kayole and Kahawa estates.
Doonholm, Savana and Embakasi were also affected.
Embakasi divisional police commander Julius Muthuri was among the first group of police teams to respond to the destruction.
“It looks like these people were dropped off here as our officers were caught by surprise,” Mr Muthuri said as he counted smouldering vehicles.
Many public service vehicle owners pulled their cars off the roads while those who had the courage to continue working raised fares threefold.
Residents of Nairobi’s Dandora and Mwiki areas suffered a double blow as the gangsters also vandalised the railway line serving the estate.
A Dandora-bound passenger train derailed after a section of rail was uprooted by the Mungiki adherents.
In Dandora estate, an assistant chief’s office was set ablaze by the youths.
Patrick Kimani Ndung’u, who was guarding the office, said about 50 youths armed with metal bars and jerrycans of petrol stormed the place at about 5am and set the building on fire.
Youths in the area later converged to protest against what they said were arbitrary arrests and killings of their colleagues by police under the guise of cracking down on the Mungiki sect.
The youths blocked roads and lit fires as they engaged police in running battles that lasted hours.
A man was killed and another injured. The dead man was believed to be a Mungiki member, while the injured was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet.
In Kariobangi, two suspected adherents were shot dead by police after a group engaged law enforcers in running battles.
Many of the affected estates remained tense the whole day yesterday.
Lorry loads of the paramilitary General Service Unit, their regular counterparts and Administration Police officers were deployed to the areas but most arrived hours after the damage had been done.
The Mungiki sect is believed to have thousands of members and more are being recruited although it was outlawed by the Government five years ago.
Maina Njenga, who is in prison, was the national chairman before his arrest.
Others associated with the sect’s activities are Mr Kimani Ruo, known as the Rift Valley province coordinator and Mr Ndura Waruinge, the national coordinator.
Mr Ruo disappeared on June 21 last year and his family accuses police of having a hand in the disappearance.
He had been arrested on February 2, 2006 with Njenga. Mr Ruo was acquitted after the prosecution failed to establish a case against him while Njenga was sentenced to five years for illegally carrying a gun, and another three years for being in possession of 22 rolls of bhang.
Njenga’s father, Kamunya Maina, is widely revered by members as the spiritual leader of the Mungiki.
Another key person linked to the top Mungiki hierarchy is Mr Joe Waiganjo, who identifies himself as the executive officer of the National Youth Alliance Party.
The last time he spoke in public, he described it as “progressive political party.”
In November 2006, he led supporters in a march to protest against increased insecurity in city slums.
The march turned out to be a Mungiki operation with participants displaying placards calling for the release of Njenga.
Two years later, on March 5 this year, the group re-emerged. Its members suddenly swarmed Nairobi streets demanding the release of Njenga, at a time demonstrations had been banned due to post-election violence.
Mr Njuguna Gitau Njuguna is the most recent to appear in public claiming to be a spokesman for the party.
Last Saturday he called a press conference and accused the Government of being behind the murder of Njenga’s wife, Virginia Nyakio.
He called the press to a Dagoretti, Nairobi, hideout, and claimed responsibility for yesterday’s demonstration in the city, Naivasha and in Eldoret in which more that 30 vehicles were torched.
Police caught napping again as sect strikes