‘Recently the sect members brazenly issued notices to their extortion tar gets to regularise paying levies’ By JAMES WAKAHIU POLICE in Gatundu say criminal patterns in the area point to the regrouping of the dreaded Mungiki sect. Area OCPD Peter Katam said thugs have recently zeroed on Kimunya village where they have been unleashing terror on villagers, prompting the arrest of 20 suspected Mungiki adherents and the killing of a suspect on July 15 last week. Katam disclosed that sect members who had been driven underground have re-emerged and are increasingly becoming bolder in their extortion misadventures with targets being the matatu sector, business people and members of the general public. He disclosed that members of the sect have caused despondency and fear among the area residents who are forced to part with earnings from sale of farm produce.And it does not end there for the feared outlaws also target cultural functions such as payment of bride price to stake their illegal claims. However, the police boss warned that the Government was alert to this turn of events in Gatundu and neighbouring areas like Murang’a, and assured that the outlaws would be rooted out since security agents have stepped up vigilance.
The police warning comes amid reports of increase in incidents of criminal activities in Kirinyaga suspected to be perpetrated by the terror gang and encountered by the vigilantes. Outlaws Criminal incidents linked to Mungiki gangs are also reported to be on the upswing in Nyeri, Kiambu and Kirinyaga. Early last months, residents of Ruring’u in Nyeri town protested against the illegal gang’s activities, saying the sect members again on the prowl. The alarm expressed by the OCPD follows recent disclosure by Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Njenga disclosed that members of the sect had apparently resurrected in Gatundu South, Githunguri, Kiambu and Limuru districts. Soft targets for members of the proscribed group are first and foremost matatu owners and operators who they force to to part with Sh 200 per day, while business operators are charged between Sh 50 and 300 each day depending on the vibrancy of the business.
Recently the sect members brazenly issued notices to their extortion targets to regularise paying levies.The threats that started in Murang’a and Othaya have spread to Thika, Gatundu, Kirinyaga and the rest of Nyeri. Commending on the shooting of the Mungiki suspect,Katam said that on the particular day, a member of the public reported to police officers on patrol that the gang members were terrorising people in the market. He said police on patrol confronted some youth armed with crude weapons but on spotting the police, they ran scattered while throwing stones at the officers. A youth Kelvin Kamau Ndichu was shot in the mouth but managed to evade police arrest. However, he was taken to Gatundu District Hospital but was arrested when he went to collect a P3 form and is now under 24-hour police guard at the hospital. An accomplice Isack Kariuki Mungai was also later arrested and charged with being a member of the illegal gang.
Katam said the group known to locals as Mafariso have taken the mode of operation of the Mungiki. Besides the extortion rings, the group which is particularly active in Kimunyu area attack people mostly bar revellers before night vanishing in the bushes. When The People interviewed patrons and bar attendants at the market, most said the gang composed of young men had now stated recruiting young women and terrorising residents with impunity. The girls are allegedly used as scouts and their work is to identity potential victims who are robbed of money and valuables like mobile phones. Once a potential victim is identified, boda boda operators who operate in the market are warned against carrying them home. Residents who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, blamed police at the local police post for not taking tougher action against the gang members even after reports are made.
Most expressed fear that the gang if not tamed in time could completely take over the area since they are already operating with impunity. The gang is reportedly led by a youth of Tanzanian origin whose parents work at a coffee estate. A barmaid in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was assaulted by the gang members but even after reporting the matter to the officers at Kimunyu police post, no action was taken. She said the gang members start attacking victims as early as 8.00pm. Another patron said he and his brother had been attacked by the gang and still no action was taken against the attackers. Kariuki’s mother Margaret Wanjiku Ndichu said she was informed that her son had been shot prompting her to report to Gatundu police station where she was told by that her son was shot mistakenly but when she went to visit him at the hospital the following day she found him under police guard and was told he was a member of Mungiki. But Katam denied the allegation and insisted that Kamau was among the group who defied police orders to stop and would be arraigned in court once he leaves hospital.