500 Kikuyu youths executed by KENYA police
Secret police killings of more than 500 youths were sanctioned by the Government, a new report claims. The murders were carried out by special execution squads and were part of the crackdown on Mungiki.
They were authorized by the top “political leadership” and the police command, says the report.
But while providing graphic details on the alleged executions by police, the report offer very little evidence that the killings were sanctioned at top levels of government.
The watchdog claims to have recorded evidence from some police officers who claimed they were ordered to take part in the killings — but said that part of their report cannot be released until the officers’ safety is guaranteed.
The officers were said to be seeking guarantees of safety under the Witness Protection Act. They are said to have named senior officers who gave the execution orders.
Besides shooting their victims, the police are said to have strangled, drowned, bludgeoned and mutilated some of their targets.
And the squads of ruthless killers formed to carry out the killings are still active, according to the report, by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
Names of victims, the dates on which they were killed and places where their bodies were dumped are all detailed.
The watchdog also gives accounts from witnesses including details of how and where the victims were seized, the names of the police officers involved and the registration numbers of the vehicles they used.
The rights group also claims police deployed to the special murder squads took advantage of the shoot-to-kill policy to set up an extortion cartel in which families of youths arrested were forced to pay hefty amounts of money to have them freed.
Witness accounts show the rogue officers demanded between Sh10, 000 and Sh1 million to free a suspect, otherwise he was killed.
Kwekwe Squad, a crack unit formed last year to hunt Mungiki sect members, is accused of being at the forefront of the killings.
Months after the squad was formed, the report says, other teams, including regular and Administration Police officers were involved. But the police on Tuesday officially denied that they had anything to do with the killings.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said: “It’s impossible for police to engage in those activities. Those are not actions that may hold anybody responsible here at Kenya Police.”
The shocking new claims were revealed by KNCHR vice-chairman Hassan Omar and the watchdog’s principal human rights officer Victor Kamau.
“It’s unacceptable to kill citizens in utter disregard of the rule of law. The attorney-general must rule that all these murders and extra-judicial killings are investigated and perpetrators prosecuted,” said Mr Omar.
According to the report, the last execution, allegedly by the police, was on July 7 and several other youths are reported to have disappeared as late as last month.
Dubbed “The Cry of the Blood”, the report is a follow-up to another released on May 11, last year which police commissioner Hussein Ali dismissed as “baseless and lacking evidence”.
His spokesman Mr Kiraithe commented on Tuesday: “The force is a little bit tired of answering people who have opted to make a career out of malicious allegations against the police.”
He went on: “We have several institutions which are ready to deal with allegations of a criminal nature, including law courts, the ombudsman and the police oversight board.”
He said the human rights commission could not be relied on, judging from their previous reports, and termed this latest one “a figment of their imagination”.
The report names 349 victims, whose bodies were identified by relatives, while another 200 are yet to be identified.
People have been reporting to the commission’s headquarters in Nairobi since October, last year, when it invited, through newspaper adverts, information on missing people.
Police used Government vehicles, privately registered cars and taxis to whisk away suspects. The officers are accused of having raided homes in the hunt for suspects and waylaying them on the roads and at matatu stages.
Others, the report says, were lured to their deaths through telephone calls suspected to have been made by officers.
In some of the incidents highlighted, KNCHR reveals mobile phone numbers used. In other cases, the callers concealed their identities.
The report also presents photographs of some of the vehicles used by police. Photographs of those killed are also presented, with the report blaming police for not opening inquest files as required by the law.
List of people said to have been killed by security agencies
The following are some of the people allegedly killed by police for their links to Mungiki:
Benson Mwangi Waraga, 55 a tailor in Nairobi found dead at City mortuary on May 19, last year, two days after he was arrested by police after a shoot-out near his workplace. A postmortem report indicated that he died of “multiple organ injuries due to multiple gunshot wounds”.
Another one is Ndung’u Wagacha,the acting Mungiki chairman. He was killed together with acting treasurer Naftali Irungu on April April 28, on the Naivasha-Nairobi highway.
Their relatives reported to the commission that police officers had visited their home several times in the past and warned they would kill him.
In another case, Wachira Peter Mwangi Gitau and Julius Irungu Mwangi were arrested on June, 30 this year during a crackdown on hawkers at the Muthurwa market in Nairobi.
Mr Wachira’s was captured on camera and the picture published in newspapers the following day. Mortuary reports showed Mr Wachira’s and Mr Gitau’s bodies were delivered there by police at dawn the following day.
Police said the bodies were collected at Ngong. A post-mortem conducted on Wachira indicated he was strangled and tortured.
Mr George Waweru Kamwene and Mr Charles Mungai Gathumbi, both officials of the Matatu Welfare Association(MWA) were found dead in Suswa, Naivasha on Augut 19, last year.
According to their relatives, the two were last seen alive at the Old Nation House roundabout, Nairobi. He had attempted to call his lawyer on cell phone but it was switched off shortly after.
The week before, Mr Gathumbi had been held for five days at the Makongeni police station while Mr Kamwene had been arrested and released.
Ms Virginia Nyakio Maina the wife of jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was found dead on April 11. It was found alongside the body of her driver, Mr George Njoroge, at Gakoe forest in Gatundu on a Thursday evening.
The two went missing two days earlier after an alleged carjacking incident at Nairobi West. They were headed to her home in Ngong.
Mr Charles Ndung’u, Njoroge’s brother, said they reported the carjacking incident to the Lang’ata police station, but the officers did not offer any assistance.
The sect’s top leadership blamed a senior police officer in Nairobi for a series of systematic execution of sect members.
Her husband, Maina Njenga who is jailed in Naivasha Maximum Security Prison has been pushing for release to bury Nyakio.
His application to be released on bond had been rejected. Mr Joseph Kimani Ruo had been arrested together with Njenga in 2005.
On June 21, last year, the two were arraigned at the High Court in Nairobi for delivery of judgment of their case and Mr Ruo was acquitted.
— Fred Mukinda