Mungiki might get a new sect leader, says Maina Njenga - The Star

Maina Njenga yesterday warned that he may not be in full control of the sect as a new leader might emerge to replace him.

Njenga said his five-year incarceration may have weakened his authority and there was no guarantee that his members would follow his lead by renouncing violence.

Njenga's warning came as several leaders of mainstream churches urged caution in admitting sect members into their congregations.

The leaders said some of the sect members were likely to join various churches with ulterior motives.

The former Mungiki leader was set free last week and was immediately driven to Bishop
Margaret Wanjiru's Jesus Is Alive Ministries church where he announced he had changed his ways, was ready to get saved and renounced his violent past.

"You know when you leave your children without a father, the children can go to the neighbour, they can go to a friend and they will start getting other skills. They will be taught some other behavior. I do not want to mention the fathers they got because it is not important at this particular time," said Njenga in reference to the impact his long sojourn in jail has had on his followers whom he estimates to be five million.

Church leaders said it was too early to celebrate Njenga and his followers decamping to the church and read ulterior motives in the sect leader's change of heart.

Catholic Bishop Martin Kivuva Diocese of Machakos said only time will tell if Njenga and his followers have truly reformed or they were using the churches as a means of legitimizing themselves and making them more acceptable to the public.

"It is only by their fruits that we shall know whether they are genuine, whether they are being used and whether they are lining up for 2012," said Bishop Kivuva.

He however said the group should be given a chance to prove that it has truly reformed.

"I will definitely not say hallelujah they have all changed," he said and called on politicians not to take advantage of the developments.

Another Catholic Bishop, who did not want to be named as he was no longer authorised to speak on behalf of the church said it was important for Njenga and other sect members seeking salvation to commit themselves to God.

"The fear we have is that these people may use churches as a recruitment ground," said the respected Bishop.

He said Njenga and his followers should be taken through catechism and taught Christian values before they get baptized.

"I think the Catholic Church should stick to its tradition and teachings before baptising any of the Mungiki members," he added.

Former head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said the church should pray for Njenga and his followers to ensure they are truly reformed.

"The church would pray that the Holy Spirit will work upon these people that whatever they say they will mean it. But if what they are saying is not the truth, it will be revealed," said Nzimbi.

The Anglican church through former Bishop Peter Njenga had a few months ago been caught up in a tussle with Bishop Wanjiru over who would conduct Njenga's baptism.

King'ong'o prison authorities had to cancel two 'baptismal ceremonies' due to the confusion.

Njenga who is yet to renounce his membership of the Mungiki said he wanted to take catechism classes ahead of his planned baptism but his followers had asked him to wait so they could all do it together.

Njenga has pledged to use his influence to urge the Mungiki to renounce violence.

The sect is alleged to be behind some of the worst protection and extortion rackets in Nairobi and Central Province enforced through brutal murders of opponents characterised by beheadings and mutilations.

Yesterday, Njenga maintained he did not want to be associated with the sect any more as he was a "changed man."

"For those who believe I am a leader, I have said from today, I want that movement to die and to die forever. I don't want it to resurrect," he said.

He told his sect members to join other churches in their neighbourhoods and even seek leadership positions in those churches.

Njenga said his followers will make a unique church once they start marrying the many young women who are members of Bishop Wanjiru's congregation.

"Just as I will go and lower my wife to the grave, I will also have a second coffin that will symbolize the death of Mungiki," he said during an interview with the Star yesterday.

Njenga's newfound faith and assurance that he has reformed does not seem to have convinced the public or his members.

Several people who had been jointly charged with murdering 29 people in Mathira last April have gone into hiding since they were released at the same time as Njenga.

Vigilante groups last Monday killed two of the sect members suspected to have been involved in the massacre.

In Kirinyaga, suspected sect members who had gone underground resurfaced yesterday and distrib uted leaflets in the town warning the residents they were back in business and would start exerting their revenge on the vigilantes who had driven them out of town.

By Francis Mureithi and Kamore Maina

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