The compelling question is: What is this Mungiki?
A religious sect created on the altar of African virtues? A ragtag assortment ofvagabonds or rabble-rousers disenchanted with life yet endowed with lust for terror? Not many people are convinced it is the latter.
Mungiki disciples claim it is a "homegrown" religious organisation committed to upholding the traditional "African way of worship, culture and lifestyle," according to its national coordinator, Mr Ndura Waruinge.
Its members, he believes, are genuine citizens disillusioned with perceived misrule and now crusade for a meaningful change in the running of the country's affairs.
Mungiki's genesis is as clouded as the sect's cause. But reports indicate this shadowy group, whose members wear dreadlocks, emerged in 1985.
Around the same time, the crusade for multipartyism and better governance, symbolised by Mwakenya, was nearing its peak. The group, however, only came to the limelight a few years ago.
Mungiki's tenets centre on chastity and African values. It professes female circumcision and the traditional Kikuyu way of worship - praying facing Mt Kenya. It also believes in oathing and sacrifices.
But this is just what its disciples claim. Mungiki's propensity for violence is what has placed the sect in sharp focus. To an extent, Mungiki has become a by-word for thuggery.
Three months ago, a platoon of "Mungiki faithful" caused mayhem when it swooped on an interdenominational prayer meeting at Uhuru Park. Last October, two people were killed when suspected Mungiki youths attacked a slum in Thika.
Reports that the group was stockpiling arms to sabotage the government have never been confirmed, but observers feel such are not completely without merit.
The sect has always left a trail of arson, forced oathing and forced circumcision in its wake. Its operations have centred on Central Province, especially in Nyeri, Nakuru and Laikipia districts. Its exact membership remains unknown.
A recent report by an international news station drew parallels between Mungiki and the Mau Mau, the pre-independence movement that arguably forced out colonialists of Kenya in the 1950s.
But what baffles many is the casual, albeit cavalier, response by authorities to this emerging phenomenon. Signs are apparent that Mungiki actions border on anarchy but little has emerged to show the government is concerned.
Cynics say there could be politically-correct people comfortable with the sect's operations.
The issue becomes even more poignant with the link between the organisation and Muungano wa Vijana wa Kenya (Mvua). The divide is so blurred observers are convinced the forces behind both groups are the same.
Eight people received gunshot wounds yesterday as the Kenya police battled followers of a controversial sect -- the Mungiki -- who had attacked a Police Station in an early morning raid.
They were shot as nearly 3,000 Mungiki men staged a daring morning raid on Nyahururu police station to free three of their colleagues.
They fought a fierce battle with police using crude missiles, stones, machetes and clubs. The fight lasted most of the day.
Police denied using live ammunition on the raiders but sect followers claimed eight of their colleagues were shot and wounded.
The law allows police to shoot at anyone who tries to escape arrest or helps to free a suspect from their custody.
Armed officers from neighbouring stations were rushed to Nyahururu as local police called for reinforcements during the dawn attack.
Nyandarua Police Boss Mutua Muthike said the officers used rubber bullets and shot in the air to keep away the raiders.
The Mungiki followers were in Nyahururu to induct new members into the sect and carry out various rituals.
Chanting war songs, they approached the station at about 6.45 am, catching the three officers on duty unawares.
The mob demanded the release of three Mungiki men who had been arrested the previous night on their way to a night-long baptism ceremony at river Gathanji within the town.
Witnesses said the three policmen hurriedly locked the station gates and shot in the air. They raised the alarm to summon help from the nearby police line.
As officers, most of them awoken from sleep, ran into the station, those who had no guns grabbed any weapon they could find, including stones, to fight back the sect members.
The Mungiki mob rained stones on the police station, shattering window panes and damaging the windscreens of four police vehicles.
Residents of the town were awakened by gunshots as police pursued the attackers into residential areas.
Mr Muthike, who was called from his house by the officer commanding police station, Inspector Charles Kipchumba, arrived to find the battle at fever pitch.
He claimed the Mungiki mob sang and chanted, encouraging each other to overrun the police station and seize guns to set up a high command at Rumuruti in Laikipia District.
"They said they also wanted to attack Rumuruti Police Station for more guns to enable them accomplish their cause," Mr Muthike said.
Armed policemen from neighbouring police stations were rushed to Nyahururu in Land Rovers, turning the town into a tense battlefield.
By 1pm about 20 dreadlocked sect followers had been arrested, some bleeding profusely.
The station compound was littered with stones, clothes and broken glass while the floor of the Report Office was splattered with blood.
Inspector Kipchumba limped around the station on his return from the battle ground. An East African Standard correspondent, Mr Nicholas Ndirangu, suffered serious head and leg injuries when he was caught in the crossfire at Ng'arua bus stop.
He was treated at a local clinic and discharged.
Mr Muthike said six sect followers who had escaped after the fighting were arrested in Nakuru.
A Nissan van, "Deadly Snooker," was also impounded by police as it ferried a Mungiki group to Nairobi.
They are expected to face charges of causing malicious damage to a police station, intent to commit a felony and creating a disturbance.
The Mungiki followers had entered the town in small groups from Friday for the "baptism with fire and water" ceremony, which started at 3 am and lasted three hours. It was after the ritual that they attacked the police station.
Government tells Kenyans to "forget" about torture Amnesty International is shocked and appalled that Major Marsden Madoka, Kenya's Minister of State responsible for internal security, yesterday told Kenyans to "forget" about the widespread acts of torture committed by the country's security forces.
His statement followed the Kenyan government's first ever admission that torture is widespread among Kenya's security forces.
"In the 50th anniversary week of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which explicitly forbids torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, it is beyond belief that Kenyan politicians are trying to undermine the suffering of people who have been tortured, as well as their human rights, and to give the torturers impunity," Amnesty International said.
The government's admission that torture is widespread in Kenya came as no surprise to Amnesty International. In March 1998 the organization presented the United Nations' (UN) Commission on Human Rights with the case of Geoffrey Ngungu Gichuki and over 150 other members of the religious group Mungiki, who were arrested as they prepared to celebrate Kenya's independence day in 1994. While in Special Branch police custody, Geoffrey Ngungu Gichuki was hung from a tree, string tied around his upper arms preventing blood circulation, and a rope tied around his forehead to keep his head against the tree trunk while Special Branch officers beat him all over his body. During the torture his right arm was so badly injured that he developed gangrene, and had to have his arm amputated at the shoulder. Geoffrey Ngungu Gichuki was never charged with a criminal offence and to Amnesty International's knowledge, his torturers remain at work.
Impunity for torturers whose identity is known is common in Kenya. Ali Hussain Ali was beaten to death in a police station in Wajir, North Eastern Kenya, in March 1997, and in June 1998 a Magistrate ruled that two policemen and an army corporal were responsible. But despite repeated representations to the Attorney General, Amos Wako -- by the victim's family, the media as well as human rights organisations -- the three men are still free.
"The stories of people like Geoffrey Ngungu Gichuki and Ali Hussain Ali, and the fact that their torturers remain unpunished, illustrates the urgent need for the Kenyan government to honour their obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, which they ratified in February 1997," Amnesty International said.
In a 1997 letter to the Kenyan government, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture noted that the security forces apparently use torture for many purposes, including intimidating detainees, dissuading political activism and obtaining "confessions" and bribes.
In a 1997 report, Detention, torture and health professionals (AFR 32/01/97), Amnesty International recommended that the Kenyan authorities implement a full program of measures to combat torture, including prevention of arbitrary arrest and detention, establishing strict controls of interrogation procedures, investigation of all reports of gross human rights violations, and conducting a full inquiry into the use of torture by security forces in Kenya.
The apparent impunity given to Special Branch and other police officers is a major impediment to justice in Kenya. Amnesty International therefore calls for the suspension of all police and security officers suspected of committing acts of torture, followed by prompt, full and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture. The results of these investigations should be made public and those found to be responsible should be tried and brought to justice promptly, with reparations made to victims where appropriate.
"The statement that the many, and continuing, acts of torture committed by security forces in Kenya should simply be forgotten is a blatant attempt to deny ordinary Kenyans' their fundamental human rights. And if torture can be forgotten, what other abuses could the government allow the security forces get away with?" Amnesty International said.
Nairobi - Molo MP Kihika Kimani has denied abusing the Kikuyu community during the Afraha Stadium rally addressed by President Moi. In a statement he issued in Nakuru Town, Mr. Kimani said: "Let it go on record that during my speech at Afraha Stadium, I did not abuse ordinary Kikuyus but my attack was aimed at Kikuyu leaders who are great liars and divide the community." The Molo legislator criticised Central Province politicians, saying they were "criminals headed for a disastrous end in their mission to grab the leadership of this country".
He said the leaders should keep off Rift Valley Province since they did not assist the province's residents during the clashes. "Ordinary Kikuyus in Rift Valley Province are tired of being misused and milked by criminal politicians claiming to be their representatives," he said.
He advised the Kikuyu community to join hands with other ethnic groups. "Kikuyus should not cheat themselves that they will rule this country without the help of other communities," he said.
Mr. Kimani claimed that politicians jealous of the peace initiative in Laikipia and Nakuru districts were now collecting money in Molo and Nakuru to allegedly register clash victims for payment "by the international community". He told former Molo MP Njenga Mungai to keep off the peace talks, saying: "My sole objective is to reconcile Kalenjins and Kikuyus.
Mr. Mungai should shut up and leave me to finish my mission." He scoffed at accusations that he had paraded his employees at the Afraha Stadium rally, and reiterated that they were members of the Mungiki sect. "Those who confessed to the president at the rally were genuine Mungiki followers, who volunteered themselves.
I only came in after they came to my home and requested me to take them to President Moi to be pardoned," he said. The MP said the real Mungiki leaders were in Central Province and had planned to unleash terror before their plans were exposed in Nakuru.
He had arranged for a series of peace meetings in Naivasha, Laikipia, Kijabe and Nyahururu, "which will all be addressed by President Moi".
Watching millennial and apocalyptic cults in the year 2000 - Index Page
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