Could this be Mungiki’s secret den?

The outlawed Mungiki sect has regrouped and is recruiting new members, police believe.

In the past five months, police have linked the sect to various criminal activities, including murders, robberies and extortion, mostly in Nairobi.

Nairobi police boss King’ori Mwangi said in May that consistent strikes by matatu (public commuter vehicle) operators at the time were being fuelled by gangs operating under Mungiki.

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Two months later, three watchmen were hacked to death when a gang of 10 men raided a plant in Industrial Area and Mr Mwangi linked the killers to the sect.

On the same night, a head that had been chopped off was found at Kawangware and although a two-day search for the torso yielded nothing, police said Mungiki was responsible.

Recently, matatu operators revealed how they were forced to pay Sh60,000 to cartels reportedly linked to the sect before their vehicles were allowed to operate.

These cartels extorted an additional Sh600 daily charge and defiant matatu operators were sometimes brutally murdered, the matatu operators said.

Secluded farm house

Last Thursday police raided a secluded farm house at Kitengela in Kajiado District, which they believe is the cult’s headquarters where new members are inducted and secret meetings held.

In a commando-style operation, the area was a no-gone zone for 20 hours as the elite recce unit of the General Service Unit (GSU) took over the “headquarters” established on an expansive 300-acre farm.

They carried out a thorough search in the imposing house – a two-storey building with nine bedrooms and a spacious living room – that stood at the centre of the farm.

A house of this kind stood out like a sore thumb in this isolated region. The neighbourhood was virtually uninhabited with only quarrying activities going on at a distance.

Even after the search, the recce unit has continued to camp there, keeping vigil. From a distance the paramilitary police unit, specially trained for insurgency, presents a setting of an action-packed Hollywood thriller.

Each officer is armed with an automatic gun, with a pistol and a knife strapped on either side of the waist. Rounds of ammunition are secured across the chest which is encrusted in a heavy bullet proof vest.

Under the scorching sun, the officers wear steel helmets and face masks that only leave the nose and mouth visible.

A senior police officer said they needed to be well armed when dealing with a group like Mungiki.

The police are convinced that the house is used for illegal meetings, which are held in a huge living room.

The cooking utensils in the kitchen can prepare meals for a multitude of people. Save for two bedrooms upstairs, the living room and the kitchen, the rest of the rooms do not appear to be regularly used.

Membership certificates

The police discovered literature and paraphernalia associated with activities of the Mungiki sect.

Among them were flags coloured white, yellow, green, red and black – hues associated with the sect.

Also recovered were sashes, cleansing oils, sect membership certificates, a seal for the National Youth Alliance Party and copies of its constitution. A voluminous Bible written in Kikuyu, baptism certificates and documents regarding another religious organisation known as the Universal Miracle Centre, were also confiscated.

The material collected – that also included cameras, receipt books and hymn books – will hopefully assist the police in understanding how the Mungiki sect works, police spokesman Jasper Ombati, said.

The owner of the house said he had no links whatsoever with Mungiki and knew nothing of the items that were confiscated from his house.

“That building is mine but at the moment it is under a contractor who is yet to complete the construction work.”

“It is entirely owned by me and not any organisation and I hope to convert it to a guest house once all construction work has been finalised,” he said.

And to account for the material confiscated from his house, the owner said the Universal Miracle Church with followers in Nairobi and Kitengela, and the National Youth Alliance Party, have at various times held seminars and meetings there.

However, of other items like the tobacco snuff and rotting intestines, he said: “Since the police raided the house at 5pm on Wednesday, they had all the time to bring in that stuff and that’s why they even locked out the Press for more than seven hours.”

Special Crime Prevention Unit boss Nyaga Reche said they were looking for the owner of the house.

After the raid, a matatu was intercepted at a police roadblock and 18 passengers arrested. Police say they are looking for the matatu owner.

Investigators believe various political and religious groups are linked to Mungiki.

Investigators are now delving into the activities of a political party, the National Youth Alliance Party, and a religious organisation, the Universal Miracle Church.

A day after police raided his house, the owner of the house and a party official addressed a press conference that was attended by CID officers.

They accused the police of unlawfully occupying private property after arresting 45 people.

However, Mr Ombati said only 18 people had been arrested.

A source told the Nation that one of the suspects arrested revealed during interrogation that a former MP coordinated the activities taking place in the house.

When the Nation visited the heavily-guarded farm house, police had detained a cook whom they found there with her two children.

The cook said she had been hired to prepare meals for guests who visited the house in the hundreds during weekends.

Among the items on the menu, she explained, was a distilled “medicinal” mixture of pineapples, oranges and lemons which the guests consumed.

Also, police recovered 3,700 litres of traditional liquor that was being prepared in a makeshift brewery at another shelter away from the farm house.

In the compound, there were traditional huts which police believe are used to conduct cleansing ceremonies. Oathing is done in an open space near a shrine.

“This looks like the shrine,” Mr Ombati observed as a team of officers gathered around it.

It was made of three stones, three pots and three bamboo sticks painted red, green, yellow and black.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Daily Nation, Kenya
Oct. 13, 2005
Fred Mukinda
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 13, 2005.
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