The notorious Mungiki sect is back with all the insecurity this represents.
Its main target as has been the case since the gang reared its ugly head is the matatu business from which it demands money. Matatu crews and owners are expected to pay some kind of protection money daily, failing which the consequences are brutal.
Matatu owners, drivers and conductors have been killed and maimed for refusing to obey. In Nairobi, the public transport has resorted to withdrawal of services to express their disgust, anger and woes.
But it is not just in Nairobi where the Mungiki menace is a security threat. In Kahuro Location in Murang’a District, the sect gangsters reign supreme and it is said to be their main hide-out. The situation is so grave that Central PC Mr Kiplimo Rugut has ordered a 24-hour police surveillance of the location.
The resurgence of the Mungiki is worrying because it seems to follow a national trend of rising insecurity. What has been happening in Molo and Kuresoi in Nakuru District, Samburu and Baringo among other areas, should be seen in this light.
The Mungiki gained notoriety in the late 1990s in what appeared to be a cultural movement of sorts. It advocated bizarre rituals, including female circumcision. It was frowned upon and ignored until it spiralled into a security threat.
But it later gained acceptance in some political circles and by the 2002 General Election, various politicians and political parties were linked to it.
When Narc came to power, it made headway in fighting it and pushed it out of city and town centres. The cartels that had formed around the matatu business were largely broken.
But it seems that was temporary, a lull before the storm, as recent events have shown.
The sect seems to have taken cover from the authorities and withdrawn to the city and town estates and the countryside. From these hideouts, it intermittently comes out to engage in illegality and make a point.
A few months ago, attempts to break the sect’s hold on the matatu business resulted in the shooting and injury of a senior police officer in the city.
This daredevil buffoonery should worry the security agents and they must once and for all come hard on the Mungiki and its network. As the country enters an election year, the gang will only get bolder.
And why not? Politicians and political parties will be ready to hire their services to intimidate or even eliminate their opponents. The Provincial Administration and the public should form a major plank in the war against Mungiki, cattle rustlers and those who torch houses.
These people must be arrested and made to face the force of the law for only then can wananchi be secure enough to go about their daily chores.
This is the time to test the community policing programme that was launched with a lot of fanfare as a complementary source of security. It will emerge whether security agents and the public have learnt to trust one another and use the information received well and responsibly. The war against crime — its success and failure — will also measure how the recent Office of the President Rapid Results Initiative is fairing.
Sep. 29, 2006 Editorial