Mungiki storm city, stage demo
March 6, 2008
By Standard Team
Hundreds of followers of the outlawed Mungiki sect staged a
demonstration in Nairobi’s Central Business District, where they
demanded the release of their leader Maina Njenga.
It was not immediately clear what brought out the chanting,
placard-waving members of the sect in such full force only weeks
after they had been repeatedly linked with an alleged plot to
unleash a new wave of violence as talks in search of a political
settlement out of the post-election crisis appeared to drag on
Apart from running extortion rings largely targeting the matatu
industry, the Mungiki kill in the most gruesome manner, usually by
beheading their victims.
The killings, which appear as meant to instill fear, are often
preceded by threats. Sometimes the gang organises sporadic attacks
mounted as raids or carjackings.
|It is alleged the
sect enjoys high political patronage, hence the audacity with
which they emerged.
Streaming into the Central Business District in such large
numbers on Wednesday, the Mungiki caused a momentary security
scare, catching everyone by surprise.
Police action was delayed for a frighteningly long spell as
the early morning drama unfolded.
The demonstrators, estimated to be
close to 3,000, poured onto several streets waving placards
bearing the portrait of their leader, Maina Njenga, who is
presently languishing in jail. They insist he is innocent.
A flag bearing the
inscriptions, ‘Kenya National Youth Alliance’ is displayed
by members of the outlawed Mungiki sect during a protest
march in Nairobi, on Wednesday.
Njenga was jailed for five years
last year for being in possession of a firearm and narcotic drugs.
Officials John Maina Kamunya and Njenga - now a professed
Christian - had previously been freed on another charge of
recruiting Mungiki members.
Mungiki "still exist"
His followers called for his unconditional release and also
demanded their own freedom of association, movement, worship and
right to ownership entrenched in the Constitution.
It appears the Mungiki may have taken advantage of the relocation
of hawkers from the city streets to the new Muthurwa Market to
mount a demonstration and pass their seemingly politically loaded
message momentarily, catching police off-guard.
The Standard reliably learnt that the majority of the
demonstrators were transported from Murang’a and Maragwa overnight
and assembled at River Road ahead of the early morning march.
When the police finally showed up, they seemed reluctant to stop
the protest. The sect members were later dispersed near the
Central Police Station as they finished their protest. This was
after several businesses in the city had hurriedly closed in fear
Some of the demonstrators confessed that they wanted to send a
message that they "still exist".
"The Government has been boasting that Mungiki is no more. Tell
them we are there and we are human beings," shouted one of the
And they warned that their mass protests would continue if their
demands were not met.
Drama began when the followers, some of them sniffing tobacco,
joined hawkers at Muthurwa before proceeding through Haile
Selassie Avenue to Harambee Avenue that houses Vigilance House and
the Office of the President.
As they filed past Vigilance House - the police headquarters - and
other offices in the CBD, occupants watched in astonishment.
The demonstrators then went through Parliament Road, City Hall
Way, Kimathi Street, Kenyatta Avenue before branching to Muindi
One of the placards had a colour photo of a handcuffed Njenga
sandwiched between two prison warders with the inscriptions, "The
Another placard, which was printed in gross paper read;
"Restitution for the 4,500 ‘Kenya National Youth Alliance’ youth
genocide victims 2007".
Others, who included women, carried a flag of the banned Kenya
National Youth Alliance party.
They said they wanted to deliver a memorandum at the Central
However, their journey was cut short when police who had been "mobilised"
by then lobbed teargas canisters at them.
The sect followers were forced to disperse but later regrouped at
the Globe Cinema roundabout where some of them jumped into matatus
and sped off.
As police battled with them, some residents were overheard
wondering how the group met and planned the demo without the
Nairobi Deputy PPO Julius Ndegwa, who went to the Globe Cinema
roundabout, said the protesters took the advantage of the
relocation of the traders from the streets to stage the demo.
"Whether they are Mungiki or any other group, their demonstration
is illegal," said Ndegwa.
The sect leadership later issued a statement demanding, among
other issues, a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and
the sharing of wealth.