GSU to hunt down sect members

Nairobi, Kenya - The government has sent in GSU officers to Kirinyaga West and Nyeri East districts to hunt down members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

Heavily armed officers arrived in the area on Friday night and are camping at the Kerugoya and Karatina police stations.

Flush out

They are patrolling Kerugoya town, neighbouring villages and the Mt Kenya Forest to flush out Mungiki members suspected of having killed 29 people in Gathaithi village in Nyeri East, which neighbours Kirinyaga.

The officers are also expected to try to halt the wave of revenge killings in Kirinyaga West district where a vigilante group hacked to death a widow, Jane Nyaruia, and burnt down her house, accusing her of funding Mungiki activities.

Villagers in Kirinyaga West took up arms on April 11 protesting exploitation and attacks by Mungiki members, saying the police had failed to protect them. The villagers subsequently killed 15 people and burnt down 22 houses believed to have belonged to sect members.

The 29 villagers in Gathaithi were massacred on Monday night in what is suspected to have been a retaliatory attack by the Mungiki.

Villagers from both Nyeri East and Kirinyaga West are planning to bury the victims on Thursday.

Allan Muriuki, one of the elders organising the funeral, said residents of both districts are meeting in one place in a show of solidarity.

“About 15 of those who died are from the same family. The rest are from Kirinyaga. We have decided to hold one meeting because we have always lived as one people,” Mr Muriuki said.

However, tension remained high in both districts as the men are still spending the nights outside patrolling the villages.

“We are patrolling while armed with rungus and pangas because those people who conducted the grisly murders may still be around,” said resident Peter Kagui.

Security meetings

The residents have reportedly been holding their own security meetings and are planning to have people anonymously identify criminals in their midst. The names of those mentioned will then be forwarded to the police for legal action.

“We know people may fear identifying criminals; that is why we are preparing a way by which people can name the criminals without fear of reprisal,” said one of the residents who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation.

The residents have also proposed that they be issued with certificates of good conduct by their respective assistant chiefs and present them before they can get casual jobs in the area like picking tea.

On Tuesday, Central PC Japhter Rugut said the night patrol groups would be issued with identity cards so they could be identified easily by the police as they carry out their rounds.