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Panic grips Central over Mungiki return

Francis Mwangi @Mlincoln

They are back. The bloodthirsty Mungiki hounds, who literally took over parts of Mount Kenya region, Nairobi and Nakuru and caused untold suffering, have crept upon the people. Again.

The outlawed sect is returning ten years after it was ruthlessly crushed by the late Interior minister John Michuki.

The reality of what this portends is yet to sink in the minds and hearts of those who chillingly bear the scars and trauma of a terror group ran amok.

To many residents of Mt Kenya, in particular, Murang’a and parts of Kiambu counties, the devil has returned, disguised as Gaza, 42 Brothers, Nja Nene (broad field), Usiku (Night) Sacco and Njama (Union). It has changed tack to survive the bullets of security agencies, but more determined to prey on victims with greater vengeance.

By the time Michuki died on February 21, 2012, he had left the gang so weak and degraded it stood no chance of ever raising its head to dare the government and society.

But just as the “Michuki rules” died with him, vigilance on Mungiki also followed him to the grave.

The gang is now bolder and more tactical.

Though Dr Fred Matiang’i, who occupies the same docket Michuki did a decade ago, is billed to be equally a no-nonsense Interior Cabinet secretary, he is yet to fathom the extent of the damage Mungiki is causing.

Murang’a county has borne the brunt of the sheer terror of the emergence of this gang. Three women have had their throats slit with machetes, and a newly circumcised boy was tortured to death less than a fortnight ago.

On October 17, 2018, the headless body of Judy Wanjiru Gacheru was found in her boyfriend’s house in Kamuiru village of Murang’a county.

Gacheru, a well-known barmaid in Maragua town had fallen in cash-motivated love with a well-known member of the dreaded Gaza gang based in Nairobi’s Kayole Estate.

After finding police crackdowns in the estate hard to bear, he retreated to his rural village, joined Mungiki and sold off his piece of land. Gacheru apparently got greedy and took off with Sh200,000 proceeds of the sale.

She had little idea of the vengeance that would ensue and was disposed of to an early grave aged at only 32. She was beheaded.

Security meetings

Murang’a East police boss Janet Wasige confirmed the suspect was an “illegal group” adherent but shied off from stating that Mungiki was back in her backyard.

A day later, in the same area, the body of 52-year-old David Macharia was found at Kahuro market with deep cuts on the face.

Kahuro Deputy County Commissioner Vincent Kirui said police suspected the mason was killed “by a criminal gang” on his way home. 

Our investigations show he has, however, held a series of security meetings and that his ‘boys’ are centring on four areas that camouflage the new face of Mungiki.

The sectors are boda boda transport, slaughterhouses, public transport and brokers in banana trade, all of which offer employment to radical youth.

Central region security Coordinator Wilson Njega merely said: “we are set to deal with it anytime anywhere it rears its head.”

But Kirinyaga County Commissioner, Samson Ojwang’ was more categorical: “We will deal with this gang perpendicularly, horizontally…from all angles.”

The threats were exactly a week old when on November 13 five metres from Maragua Police Station, Purity Muthoni had her throat slit with a machete. The incident occurred at precisely 7:12 pm.

The suspect was arrested at dawn and admitted he was once a member of Mungiki in Laikipia county. Security agents did not disclose this to the media, only saying the murder was ignited by a domestic row in which the 39-year-old Muthoni had jilted the 26-year-old suspect, thus prompting the revenge.

Security agents did not say this but coincidentally the throat and the machete were the common denominators.

There was a lull until November 25 when another body of a woman with a slit throat was discovered in Mbombo area of Murang’a county. It was then that Kandara MP Alice Wahome went bold saying “Mungiki is back.” Weeks later, she tearfully mourned Juliano Kanyonyo,  who was bludgeoned to death by suspected Mungiki members as he recuperated in his small cubicle after initiation.

Members of Mungiki came calling, ostensibly for an indoctrination ritual. He had scored 376 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination.

Succumbed to injuries

A postmortem showed he succumbed to injuries inflicted by brutal force applied with blunt objects on his head. He also suffered a broken hand.

“The death of this boy is to be blamed on the resurgence of illegal gangs in this region. Many do not want to be bold enough to say it, but we are now faced with a situation where continued silence is no longer tenable. Mungiki is back,”  Wahome said. It is a position upheld by various security officials though vaguely.

“I think the public information has been accurate,” says Nyumba Kumi initiative national security initiative director Joseph Kaguthi.

He says the reports from the public went off the air after the security anonymous public messaging platform –22068—was deactivated two months ago following a Sh2 million dispute between the government and the host that ran the platform.

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