Daily Nation (Kenya), Jan. 14, 2003
A war of words broke out yesterday over the outlawed Mungiki sect, with the internal security minister vowing the crackdown against members will continue – and the movement’s leader daring the police to carry out their shoot-to-kill orders.
Mr Ndura Waruinge, who claims to speak for the sect, vowed Mungiki would retaliate “tit-for-tat against anyone who wages war on us”.
He also said the sect would seek help from outside Kenya to fight back.
Minister Chris Murungaru yesterday warned police commissioner Philemon Abong’o against any laxity in combating Mungiki, which has been blamed for a string of murders and attacks.
Dr Murungaru said: “The police commissioner has been given express instructions to deal firmly with Mungiki followers and any laxity will not be tolerated.”
He dismissed Mungiki threats of war against the Government.
“The government won’t be cowed by such hollow threats from Mungiki and when they say that they will come with fire, they should know that we have more superior firepower than them,” Dr Murungaru told a Press conference in his office.
The countrywide crackdown had seen 239 suspects rounded up by yesterday, the minister said.
One hundred and seventy had been arrested in Rift Valley, 37 in Central and 32 in Nairobi provinces.
Dr Murungaru said a further 26 members had surrendered in Nakuru following his amnesty to all militia members.
At the same time, Dr Murungaru reiterated that the earlier order to shoot-on-sight members of the sect still stood.
However, Mungiki leader Ndura Waruinge denouncing the shoot-to-kill order claimed yesterday the organisation would seek help from outside the country to fight back.
The sect’s national coordinator added: “We warn that if they apply the shoot-to-kill order, we too may be forced to retaliate in kind, that is shoot-to-kill method.”
He poured cold water on the Government’s amnesty, claiming his group had not committed any crime, and he echoed other leaders’ comments that police should not prevent people alleged to be Mungiki members from manning matatu [commuter] routes unless they gave them alternative employment.
Mr Waruinge said he saw no need to contact the police “as I have told them all about Mungiki in the past”.
He alleged the recent killings in Nakuru were instigated by senior government officials seeking political gain and he drew a parallel between the public parading of Mungiki suspects in Nakuru and Nairobi to the infamous Mwakenya trials, in which suspects were arrested, forced to confess to being anti-establishment and tried the same day.
“Narc should be wary of taking us back to the single party era,” he said.
He claimed a Cabinet minister and several leading Narc and Kanu politicians were among the four million members and financiers of Mungiki “who should be the last people to point accusing fingers at us”.
He spoke as Embakasi MP David Mwenje tried to distance himself from Mungiki and denied supporting the sect members who man matatu routes in Dandora estate, Nairobi, where he addressed them on Sunday.
In retracting his support for the outlaws, he said he supported the Government in its crackdown on sect members, including those operating in Dandora.
During his Press conference at Parliament Building, where he was accompanied by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, Mr Mwenje accused the Daily Nation of misquoting him.
He said he only supported the work of “those young men manning matatu routes in Dandora who are doing a good job but who are not Mungiki.”
A visibly angry Mr Mwenje continued: “By the name of God who created me, I never said those words written in the Nation newspaper and I need an apology tomorrow otherwise I will sue them and they will pay me more than Biwott was paid”.
Mr Mwenje claimed the report was calculated to bring him into collision with Kenyans and the church, who were bitter about the sect.
Mr Kamanda said Narc MPs from Nairobi had agreed to have groups like Mungiki whose youths were “doing a good work” to “change their names and call themselves vigilante groups.”
Gangs of sect members had rioted in Dandora on Saturday, paralysing public transport. A man claiming to be one of the leaders of the sect, Mr Mohamed Murimi, said Mungiki would not relent in its attempts to take control of matatu routes.
Mr Mwenje’s comments the following day, which were tape recorded, included:
“We have assured them that there will be no problem on the road. Security is guaranteed. I have also talked to the police and they have also assured me of the guarantee that nobody will harass them.
“In any case, the so-called Mungiki in Dandora are not actually the Mungiki that creates havoc. These are actually young men who are actually assisting them in the matatu stages; that is helping them in manning.
“It is not like the Mungiki of Nakuru, which is killing. This one is actually bringing peace in Dandora. And I must say I am actually happy with them. I don’t even know why they are referred to as Mungiki because these are actually young men employed by the owners of the matatus.”
Asked to comment on Mr Mwenje’s remarks, security minister Dr Murungaru said yesterday that the MP would be dealt with internally by the party if it were established that he publicly supported Mungiki.
Such utterances would be unfortunate from a party member, given the determination of the Government to wipe out Mungiki and similar gangs, he added.