Mungiki’s Long History of Clashes With the Law

The Nation (Kenya), Aug. 25, 2002
http://allafrica.com/stories/200208260440.html

Mungiki has remained a mysterious organisation since it first emerged in late 1997. In April 1999, Molo Democratic Party of Kenya MP Kihika Kimani alleged that the sect was the brainchild of Kenyan exiles who wanted to subvert the Government.

The MP told a rally at Sipili in Laikipia District that some scholars in exile wanted to overthrow the Government using the sect as a recruiting agent. Mr Kimani said the sect had recruited 800,000 members and was out to enlist 1.5 million.

In September 1998, 16 members of the sect were charged with holding an illegal assembly. When they failed to raise the Sh15,000 bond, the children among them were taken to a Kiambu juvenile prison, while the adults were locked up at the Industrial Area Remand Prison.

And two years ago, before President Moi at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, 50 Mungiki members confessed that they had taken an oath to destabilise the Government. The President pardoned them, together with others who had been arrested in Embu.

When some of the members of the sect visited President Moi at his home in Kabarak, near Nakuru, they claimed that their sect planned a revolution. They told the President that forced female circumcision, taking snuff and praying while facing Mt Kenya were some of the sect’s characteristics. President Moi asked the group not to do anything that would bring a curse on the Kikuyu people.

In 1999, 15 female teachers at Kiandutu Primary School in Thika failed to report to school after Mungiki members threatened to circumcise them. The threat came through a letter addressed to the headmaster.

Later that year, the sect’s national co-ordinator, Mr Ndura Waruinge, alleged that the group had recruited members of the Armed Forces but denied it was involved in illegal activities.

“It is true that some members of the Armed Forces, from the regular police, the Criminal Investigation Department and the General Service Unit have joined Mungiki but the organisation is not involved in any criminal activities.”

In June, 2000, about 100 members of the sect were said to be taking Islamic lessons in Nakuru Town. A Muslim cleric said he had supplied them with 5,000 booklets on Islam.

In September 2000, up to 300 members of the sect were reported to have converted to Islam following an elaborate one-week initiation ceremony at Eastleigh, Nairobi. A group of the sect’s followers attacked a police station in Murang’a and stole a gun from an officer on duty. The officer later died from wounds suffered during the attack. Police recovered the gun later.

Towards the end of October, 2000, Police Commissioner Philemon Abong’o warned that Mungiki would not be allowed to hold any unlicensed meetings.

Before that, a mob allegedly led by Mungiki members had whipped and stripped women at Kayole, Nairobi, whom they found wearing trousers. They waved the women’s trousers in triumph.

When police raided the hideouts of one of the people who had participated in the Kayole incident, they discovered firearms, electronic goods, police uniforms and thousands of litres of traditional brews.

In January last year, members of the sect raided Mwiki Police Post in Nairobi engaged in a three-hour running battle with the police. Several police officers and the sect’s members were injured.

Last September, leaders of the movement claimed they had raised Sh800 million and planned to collect Sh3.5 billion to finance their candidate in this year’s election.

Late last year, a battle raged at Dandora estate, Nairobi, after Mungiki members forcefully took over matatu terminuses. The sect’s members armed with guns, bows arrows, pangas and metal bars struck on a Sunday night and killed two people. Mayhem followed for days.

Last March, 3,000 members of the sect said they would support Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. At a meeting in Laikipia, the sect’s members urged Mr Kenyatta to gun for the presidency.

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