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Mungiki outwitted us, Govt admits

Published on April 16, 2008, 12:00 am

By Standard Team

Mungiki wrong-footed us on Sunday night — that was the Government’s answer to queries where the security forces were when the sect reigned terror in Nairobi, Central and Rift Valley provinces.

Internal Security Permanent Secretary, Mr Cyrus Gituai, told The Standard that the police had expected Mungiki to strike on Monday at 6am, but instead went on the rampage at 3am, three hours earlier.

Firefighters put out a fire after youths believed to be members of the outlawed Mungiki sect petrol bombed a Kenya Bus vehicle at Kenyatta Market, Nairobi, on Tuesday morning. No one was injured, though the driver said the youths had been manhandled.

The sect members took over parts of the country and held them hostage for hours before security apparatus swung into action.

But even as the Government admitted being caught off-guard, Mungiki members continued their reign of terror on Tuesday, killing three more people, torching 13 vehicles and declaring some towns no go zones.

Gituai said the Intelligence network was aware of the planned raids, but were caught unawares ostensibly because the organisers of the raids changed plans at the last minute to distract the police.

“We knew about the planned raid, but got the time wrong. They struck at 3am and by the time police responded, it was two hours late,” he said.

Gituai issued a warning to the sect followers, whom he termed criminals, saying they would regret their activities. He disclosed that 101 suspects had been arrested.

The PS noted that security agents had been mobilised to investigate and take firm action on those behind the riots that led to loss of property valued at millions of shillings.

He also instructed that police escort vehicles on routes that had been paralysed by the Mungiki menace.

“I do not want to say what the officers will do to criminals caught destroying property and disrupting activities in the country,” Gituai said.


The PS said Mungiki members could not be allowed to mourn their leader, Maina Njenga’s wife, Virginia Nyakio, by hurting other people. Njenga is serving a five-year jail term at Naivasha Prison.

She and her driver, George Njoroge, were abducted from Lang’ata and their bodies were later found dumped at a forest in Gatundu.

Gituai said the crimes Mungiki committed could not be condoned by any society.

Police laxity worrying

But the PS could not explain why it took three hours for the police to respond to the mayhem sparked by the Mungiki members in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyahururu, Murang’a, Maragua, Nyeri, Thika and Gatundu where they left a trail of destruction and death.

But even as Gituai reassured an agitated nation that Kenyans were safe from the Mungiki menace, the sect members butchered a watchman in Nairobi and burnt 13 vehicles.

They also declared Murang’a and Maragua their turf and warned of dire consequences should anybody dare open business. They also warned matatu operators that they allowed vehicles on the road at their own risk

In Nairobi, hundreds of commuters from Eastlands walked to work as matatu operators withdrew vehicles from the roads following the previous night’s burning of 11 vehicles in Ngara and the a KBS bus on Mbagathi Way Tuesday morning.

Mungiki have guns

While the Mungiki mayhem was going on, their leader broke his silence since the killing of his wife, telling the police to move out of his house in Kitengela and allow his relatives to mourn Nyakio in peace.

He warned that Kenyans had not seen the last of the Mungiki, adding that the sect had the weapons to sustain an all-out battle with the police.

“We have the muscle and the guns to sustain an all-out war and we know those who are using you,” said Njenga through a trusted aide.

Njenga, who is languishing in the Naivasha Maximum Prison, described the occupation of his house as illegal and unacceptable.

“Tangu lini uliona serikali ikinyakua mali na nyumba ya mshatakiwa. Hii ni haramu. Polisi wasijharibu kushindana na sisi.” (Since when did you hear the Government seize the property of an accused person. This is illegal. The police should not compete with us,” he said.

The sect leader said he was concerned with the situation in most parts of the country and that his wife would only be buried after the police had vacated his house.

Meanwhile, Nyakio’s wife’s car has been found. The burnt shell of the car, a RAV 4 registration KAP 160, was found on the Emali-Loitokitok road, 6km from Emali town.

Sources said the car was driven to the place on Sunday at midnight by people who set it ablaze.

The vehicle has been missing since last Wednesday when Nyakio and her driver were abducted.

Besides the killing of the watchman, police shot dead two suspected Mungiki followers after a group tried to block Kamunde Road in Korogocho and Industrial Area.

The guard was hacked to death after he raised the alarm when a gang of about 50 youths armed with machetes and petrol bombs raided a garage near the Globe Cinema Roundabout.

They set ablaze 11 vehicles, including matatus. Most of the vehicles had been taken there on Monday for repairs. The guard, identified only as Kamukono, was cut several times and left for dead.

He had called the police on his mobile phone when he noticed the gang. He fled on foot but the sect pursued him and killed him.

Police and the garage owners said nothing was stolen from the slain watchman. The owners added they had incurred loses amounting to millions of shillings.

The KBS bus was petrol bombed at Kenyatta Market as it dropped passengers from the city centre at about 9am.

The driver, Mr Joseph Njoroge, said he had made a U-turn after dropping passengers when youths confronted him with kicks and slaps, asking him why he was operating when others had gone on strike.

“They pulled me out of the bus and later threw a petrol bomb near the engine,” he said.

The bus caught fire, which was put out by firemen from the City Council. None of the 20 passengers in the bus was injured.

Witnesses said the gang of about 10 later escaped on foot towards the nearby Ngumo estate, swearing that they would not allow the matatus to continue operation.

The attack, which brought to about 50 the number of vehicles burnt since the mayhem began, spread fear among a few matatu operators and they withdrew the vehicles from the road.

Contingents of police officers were on patrol at night following reports that the sect would make a daring attack on one of the police stations. The attack did not take place.

Tension remained high on most city routes as operators withdrew from the roads for fear of attack. The affected routes were Kayole, Komarock, Zimmerman, Donholm, Ngumo, Kariobangi and Dandora.

Few vehicles resumed services later in the afternoon as police patrolled the affected areas.

But the busy Murang’a, Maragua, Kangema, Saba Saba, Kangari and Kenol towns in Murang’a North and South were deserted throughout the day.

It was the second day the banned sect spread terror in the region after an orgy of violence in which they barricaded roads, burnt vehicles and harassed motorists.

Yesterday, residents woke up to find leaflets dropped on the streets, warning traders against opening businesses.

The leaflets, some of which were pinned on doors of business premises, were required to remain closed for the next seven days.

The leaflets read in part: “You are warned against opening businesses from today (yesterday) for the next seven days. Failure to heed the warning will lead to serious consequences.”

Some traders claimed that the gang was demanding Sh10,000 daily for business owners to be allowed to operate.


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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