Chaos as police battle Mungiki

Daily Nation (Kenya), Sep. 11, 2002

Scores of Mungiki sect followers were yesterday injured in a fierce battle with the police.

Chaos started when armed police raided bus terminuses in Kirinyaga District to clear out members of the banned sect who had taken control of matatu (commuter taxi) routes.

The sect adherents, who were armed with clubs and other weapons, resisted the move and the security men clobbered and kicked them during the 1pm incident. Hawkers at Ngurubani market abandoned their goods and fled as the police engaged the gang in running battles.

The police overpowered the group and bundled several of them into a waiting lorry. They were locked up at Kerugoya police station.

Police said that the group’s leader, a son of a local tycoon, escaped arrest and was being pursued.

Last week, the sect followers beat up touts manning bus terminals and took control of all the routes in the district.

A security officer was seriously injured when police went to stop the fight.

In the past week, passengers have complained of harassment by the Mungiki gangs. Local police boss Simiyu Wasige said police will not allow Mungiki to threaten the peace.

In Kiambu, two people were seriously injured by a group of club-wielding touts who took charge of the town’s matatu terminus yesterday.

Patrick Mwaura and Peter Mbugua were admitted to Kiambu district hospital with serious head and body injuries.

Police sources said that four people had been arrested in connection with the early morning violence and they would be taken to court. “Two of them are touts manning the matatu terminal,” the source said.

Trouble started when some matatu owners defied an arrangement agreed with the provincial administration and the council about an orderly method of running the business in the town.

Last month, the Kiambu municipal council, local DC Chelimo Cheboi and a group of matatu owners made sweeping changes to matatu routes which were not well received by a rival group.

The changes included queuing of vehicles at various terminuses and payment of Sh200 a day to parking attendants.

The council has since recorded a 400 per cent increase in revenue collection. A matatu owner, Mr Chris Ng’ang’a, said the businessmen were not party to the agreement.

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