July 25th 2017

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Nairobi police see new Mungiki activity, fearing violence in 2017 polls

"In Kayole and Mathare, we deal with Mungiki cases on a weekly basis," said a source, explaining that police headquarters have contingency plans to deal with opportunistic violence, but that organised chaos would pose a major challenge for the force.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 22 Dec 2016 14:52 EAT

Mungiki members during a past protest march in Nairobi.

Security officials from various neighbourhoods in Nairobi have reported increased Mungiki activity in the last few months, raising fears that the proscribed group may be raring its head in readiness for the 2017 elections. Violent groups play opportunistic roles in security management for candidates in elections throughout the country, and Mungiki has provided services to top Central Kenya leaders since its formation in the last 1990s.

However, the group gained notoriety for its role in 2007/08 post-election violence, when it became subject of investigations by the International Criminal case against then deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta, head of the civil service Francis Muthaura and police commissioner Hussein Ali. The cases have since been terminated.

Following the PEV, national authorities cracked down on Mungiki and drove its operations underground. It now seems, however, that the group has reactivated its operations in a number of Nairobi estates and matatu termini. Security officials are dealing with varying degrees of Mungiki activity in Kayole, Mathare, Githurai and Mlolongo, according to a police source who briefed the Kenya Free Press.

The Mlolongo branch operates between the Mlolongo Primary School flyover and Nairobi’s General Motors in Industrial Area. It is the one that has caused more worries to security officials given the area had never reported Mungiki presence in previous years. According to the police source, the gang members operate in groups of between seven and ten members and are openly extorting money from matatu operators. Most matatus in the area also confirmed that they pay Sh200 per matatu per day to the emergent cartel.

The gangs have also adopted a rather new way of raising funds, terrorizing residents of Mlolongo Town at night. “They don’t harm people at the moment. They patrol the backward streets and collect money from those they find walking at night. Some have raided lodging houses and demanded money from revelers in clubs, sex workers and bar maids,” said the source.

A unique feature of the gangs is their well-groomed posture, with many of those under police radar being quite urbane, dressing presentably and speaking with the flare of Nairobi youths. At least three of them have been identified as coming from Muranga County. Some matatu operators allege that the gangs were ferried to the town by vehicles belonging to a Sacco that plies the route. “They arrive very early in the morning and return to Muranga deep into the night,” one matatu driver said.

So alarmed are security officials in Mlolongo that Athi River deputy county commissioner Geoffrey Omoding last week addressed the issue during his Jamhuri Day message. The administrator said the local security officials was aware about the emergence of a criminal gang that was aiming to take bus termini in the area.

Speaking at Mavoko Stadium, he compared the group to a previous one called GAZA that had emerged in the region some years back but was eliminated by security agencies, promising that even the current one will be “addressed”.

Police sources said the Criminal Investigations directorate was piecing together crime reports from the Mlolongo Police Station to understand the operations of the gangs. "In Kayole and Mathare, we deal with Mungiki cases on a weekly basis," said a source, explaining that police headquarters have contingency plans to deal with opportunistic violence, but that organised chaos would pose a major challenge for the force.

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