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Africa - Kenya - Mungiki

Eight held as police break up night oath
By George Munene ("Daily Nation," November 1, 2009)

Nairobi, Kenya - Eight people were arrested when police broke up an illegal oathing ceremony in Kirinyaga South district. More than 30 other suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect escaped arrest at Ng’othi village in Mwea division.

Those arrested, some sporting dreadlocks and wearing long jackets, were locked up at Sagana police station. During the Saturday night operation police confiscated two goats, five machetes, herbs, tobacco, Bibles, hymn books, sufurias (cooking pots), and two motorcycles which were used to ferry the paraphernalia.

Led by area deputy police head Patrick Oduma, the law enforcers raided a hut belonging to a sect leader and found the youths aged between 22 and 38 taking oath. The sect leader also escaped the police dragnet. Residents said the sect members would have launched mass killings after they were through with their ceremony.

“We suspect that the youths were taking the oath in preparation for mass killing of residents in the area,” a villager who sought anonymity said. Mr Oduma said police acted quickly on receiving the information. “We caught them red handed,” he said.

He said police have been alert since leaflets were spread in the area last week. The leaflets believed to have been authored by Mungiki sect were found scattered at Kamuiru, Kagio and Kiamaina and other trading centres on Wednesday.

They warned that the sect members would raid the area any time from October 24 to avenge the killing of their two colleagues by vigilantes. Elsewhere, a human rights activist has blamed the rise of vigilante attacks to the failure by the justice system.

Nakuru-based David Kuria cited the recent killing of two suspects in Mathira, as a trend which he said is likely to spread to other parts of the country if no action is taken.

While condemning the killings, Mr Kuria said the only way to end such killings is to carry out major reforms at Attorney General’s office which has failed to build strong cases against murder suspects.

“The buck stops with the AG’s office which has weak prosecutors and investigators who are not competent enough to handle murder cases,” said Mr Kuria.