Mungiki: The real story

The outlawed Mungiki sect is slowly transforming into a Mafia like organization and is believed to be behind the recent spate of crime in some parts of the country, a confidential 24 page police report that is scheduled to be discussed by the cabinet now says.

The report, details a shocking blow by blow account of a Mungiki that is not only running real estate and transport businesses but one that is now boasting of making a number of poor people instant millionaires and preparing to sponsor a number of candidates to parliament in this year’s general elections.

The sect which begun as a religious group has according to analysts transformed into a “Government of sort” sect. They levy taxes, control matatu routes, sell electricity and have their own courts. They are also said to be allotting land and even advancing loans to their members.

The report says that part of the crime wave currently under the spotlight is directly funded by the Mungiki and is intentionally aimed at foreigners, the rich and prominent in the society and police officers.

The report even lists recently fallen Kenya’s most wanted criminal Simon Matheri Ikeere as one of the prominent members of the dreaded cult. “Out of 26 criminals whose photo’s police have circulated over the last six months, 18 are members of Mungiki,” the report says.

So organized is the Mungiki, that the report approximates the net worth of the outlawed sect that the reports brands a mafia organization, is Shs 4.5 billion as of January 15 this year. As a proof of their financial might, the report says the sect is preparing its first budget to be ‘read’ in May this year – a month before this year’s national budget.

Like any other group in organized crime, Mungiki is said to run six armouries, across the country. The headquarters, the report says is in Laikipia and that’s where all the sources of weapons donors allegedly direct their donations.

“The Mungiki Laikipia armoury is large and runs about 15 feet deep, those who steal guns from the police are rewarded with ranks within the organization and are branded heroes,” the report reveals.

Other armouries are in Dandora, Tigoni area, Kayole, Njiru and Kitengela.

“Each armoury exists for a reason; the Tigoni one is a back-up for highway crime, while Kayole and Njiru exist so as to offer refuge to gangsters and those commanding the transport sector.”

“The Kitengela armoury is the main source of weapons and manpower to spread fear and panic, basically it is meant to organize and dispatch assignments,” the report reads.

The sources of weapons for the organization have been directly linked to the beef business where guns are wrapped together with the meat as it makes its way from North-Eastern to the country; other sources include the Oromo Liberation Front in Ethiopia and North Uganda.

In the armouries, the main weapons available are AK 47’s, G3 rifles and bullets. “The ultimate goal, “ reads the report stamped highly confidential, “is to make sure that both the Police Commissioner and the Minister for Internal Security are sacked.

“The attack on foreigners is so as to affect the booming tourism industry and to increase the pressure by foreign missions on Government. Attacks on the rich and the prominent is a strategy to agitate Kenyans and make them also demand for action, while killing of police officers is meant to scare the law enforcers. All these are characteristics of a mafia organization,” the report chillingly reads.

“They have established a clear abroad network and with the laws on money laundering still very weak, they are able to access lots of money through charity like events and others directly from Kenyans with a die hard association with the group, a channel that cannot be stopped, because they educate hundreds of children and even run three credible children’s home,” the report says.

Mungiki, the report further reveals has already adopted a flag that is coloured white, yellow, green, red and black-hues associated with the sect.

Links are also being drawn to an international organization the universal miracle centre whose details of operations are still scanty.

“The resurgence of the sect comes after a failed attempt to revive under the guise of the National Youth Alliance Party,” the report further reads.

The sect’s chairperson, Maina Njenga is still in police custody awaiting charges for leading oathing ceremonies and for handling stolen property. However, police believe that his arrest has not affected the operations of the sect. The law enforcers say they are cracking down on members of the outlawed sect.

Young unemployed people are lured into Mungiki through practical pledges of employment and life changing fortune making assignments, “graduates pass through a rite that involves ingesting human urine and umbilical cords, before undergoing a public baptism, where English (or Christian) names are dropped in favour of indigenous names.”

Elaborate rituals of Mungiki

The report further details how conversion to Mungiki happens, “Initially held at a shrine in Karandi area of Laikipia district, the oathing ceremony is an elaborate process, which begins late in the evening, goes on through the night to end at dawn.” Black sheep and goats are slaughtered and their blood mixed with some mixtures said to made out of wild plant roots.

Other independent sources explained to our reporters that, “traditional Kikuyu beer, Muratina, whose main component is honey is served in plenty as the initiates engage in singing and chanting slogan in praise of their gods and the movement.”

Paraphernalia, which include walking sticks painted in red, green, black and white , gourds and small tobacco containers are passed around to members and a flag in the same colours is normally hosted outside the shrine.

“We are Mungiki and we shall stick together and guard the secrets of our sect. We shall protect one another and remain united under our leaders…” the initiates chant as they sip a bloody concoction that is passed around to everyone present. They also sing traditional songs.

“Roast meat is also passed around to members who take bites in turns after their leaders, and tobacco, in small containers, is passed around for members to sniff,” says a former member who requested anonymity.

The aim of the elaborate ritual is to unify the group. The sole purpose of the oath is to ensure that the initiates abide to the sect’s doctrines of coming together to form a society that respects its people’s cultures and the traditional practices.

As morning comes, the new initiates are “baptized” in the wee hours of the morning at a dam near the shrine. The converts are immersed in the murky waters before passing over a goatskin, which is spread on the ground where the spiritual leader stood. But for those who join the sect even after being coerced, there is no turning back after the oath, our source revealed.

“Anyone who joined the sect would be allowed to know all the secrets including our sources of funds for our operations and other internal matters. This is why some people were killed once they denounced the sect,” says one of the sect’s coordinator in Rift Valley Province. There is no turning back once you are a true Mungiki, he says, adding that no one has ever performed a reverse ritual.

“This explains why those who join us disappear from the public domain once they feel like not continuing to be members,” he explains.

Over the year’s successive governments’ attempts to reign in on the sect have been unsuccessful. Amnesty, threats and even arrests do not seem to deter the sect.

In 2003, breathing fire and brimstone, the then Internal Security Minister Chris Murungaru issued a stern warning to the group saying “we shall trample on them so that they know who is in control.” However, the group went on with its operations undeterred. After assuming the internal security docket, John Michuki issued the same ultimatum, but as the police report indicates, the group has grown in strength and even in numbers.

Analysts say, the police report is nothing new since the findings are ‘common knowledge’.

“However, it would be interesting to see how the government will handle the issue this being an election year,” says one of the analysts adding that “this under world government cannot be extinguished by crackdowns or arrests. There are many underlying issues and those need to be addressed if we are to forever deal with groups of organized crime exhaustively. We have to find out the cause of this deviant behaviour”.

He also contend that the “success” of the group may encourage other less sophisticated groups to learn from them making crime an alternative way of life “so the issue should be dealt with comprehensively and as a matter of urgency.”

Though the police report lays blame squarely on the shoulders of Mungiki, investigations show that more organized groups are coming up. In fact, some of the groups, it is believed, have played a role in the recent spate of violent crime. A new group known as ‘the white bar’ with Somali links is said to be operating mainly from Eastleigh and is dealing in narcotics, money laundering and gun selling business. Others like ‘Sungu Sungu’ have terrorized villagers in Kisii, burning homes, maiming and killing people.

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