Former Mungiki sect leader jailed

The former leader of outlawed Mungiki sect John Kamunya, alias Maina Njenga, was today sentenced to five years for being in possession of a gun and trafficking marijuana.

A life of solitude in Naivasha Maximum Prison began for a man responsible for nurturing the Mungiki sect when he served as the sects’ spiritual leader before he “reformed”. Mr Kamunya, was recently cleared of charges of administering an oath alongside 30 others.

His relatives wailed as he was escorted to the High Court’s basement cells under tight security.

Dressed in a grey-stripped suit, he supported himself on the rails at the dock, with his gaze fixed on the Senior Principal Magistrate, Mrs Rosemelle Mutoka.


Mungiki is an outlawed, quasi-political/religious cult in Kenya.

It is a criminal gang that has attacked women for wearing pants or mini-skirts, imposed female circumcision by force, murdered defectors, and raided police stations.

Mungiki attack matatu (public commuter vehicles) drivers by extorting money or taking over lucrative routes.


His co-accused, Mr Joseph Kimani Ruo, walked to sweet freedom after being acquitted of both charges. The two were allegedly found with an Italian Bandelli pistol on February 2, 2006 at Zambia Area, Ngong Town.

Further, it was alleged that they had trafficked narcotic drugs by storing in one of their rooms, 22 rolls and 200 grammes of bhang with a street value of Sh 1,220.

“I find therefore that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses is unshaken and hence credible and I accept it as it relates to recovery of the pistol and bhang,” the magistrate said.

Kamunya pleaded for leniency through his lawyer, Mr Julian Orieyo, but the court said the offence was serious. Orieyo also requested the court to grant his client a non-custodial sentence, saying the pistol found in his client’s house had no trigger.

“The first accused is married with two wives and five children. The alleged pistol had no trigger and that should be taken into account in meting out the sentence. I leave it to the court and we pray for leniency.”

He said Kamunya had been in custody for one year and had been moved from Kamiti to Naivasha Maximum Prison without the court’s permission.

But the magistrate ruled: “The offence is serious. It carries a maximum of 14 years. It matters not that the firearm had no trigger and was incapable of being fired. For all intents and purposes, it had the appearance of a firearm that is serviceable and possession of it without a certificate was unlawful.”

Blamed police

In his defence, Kamunya said a police Inspector, a Mr Mwangi, had planted the gun and drugs in his house following a disagreement over a woman.

The said inspector Mwangi, Kamunya added, had two months before the raid in his Ngong house attempted to charge him with assault. Later, the officer vowed to ensure he was arrested, he said.

Mutoka dismissed Kamunya’s claims as general and an afterthought, saying the evidence could not be sustained. “The pistol was recovered from the bedroom of the first accused. He must have known of the presence of this pistol. He never stated if anyone else had access to his bedroom.”

Further, she said claims by the accused that he did not know the firearm was there were unsupported.

Kamunya’s had urged the court to dismiss the case because the particulars were too general.

The magistrate disagreed with him saying,” I find the contention by Orieyo that the charge is incurably defective as baseless.”

“Credible witnesses who are police officers have proved the case against you and I have no choice but to sentence you for the crimes committed,” magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka said.

His conviction comes hot on heels of an operation carried by police in Mathare slums in Nairobi and central Kenya where about 1,000 followers were arrested. The sect is blamed for beheading some 30 people in Nairobi and central Kenya.

Mungiki followers have been demanding protection fees from public transport operators, slum dwellers and other businessmen in Nairobi and those who refuse are killed.

Analysts view Mungiki as a product of unemployment and poverty, but which has been helped to thrive by crooked businessmen in the public transport sector.

Mungiki first emerged as a cultural group whose ideals were supported by some Members of Parliament. “They complained about the adulteration of Kikuyu culture and wanted the youth to learn the original Kikuyu values,” an MP from Nakuru was recently quoted by the Standard.

The group later started deploying members, mostly unemployed youth, to bus termini where they levied charges on public service vehicles. They operated on specific routes within Nairobi, Central Province and parts of Rift Valley.

The former Kanu Government appeared to have largely ignored Mungiki despite its frequent clashes with touts in Nairobi and Nakuru. But now opposition MPs are blaming the Government of being behind it.

The Kanu regime sought the help of the sect in 2002 general elections to campaign for Uhuru Kenyatta and in November 2005 referendum, hundreds of armed Mungiki youths poured into the streets of Nairobi, in a charged demonstration in support of the Government.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday June 21, 2007.
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