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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mathare Killing Fields: The Untold Story Of A Massive Massacre By The Kenya Police Part II

Kumekucha Exclusive Investigation

THIS IS PART 2. Read Part 1 First

Kumekucha has reliably been informed that a key Mungiki figure, Kimani Ruo, met the same fate that befell the five men shortly after he was acquitted by the High Court on charges of being in possessing of a firearm and drug trafficking.

We have been informed that Ruo was abducted by plainclothes detectives from the Special Crime Prevention Unit outside the High Court and bundled into a police car and handcuffed. The car sped off towards Mombasa road. Police officers privy to what took place informed us that Ruo was shot dead and his body thrown into the Nairobi National Park. It’s believed the body was mauled by lions and other wild animals and there will never be any trace of him. Ruo’s abduction was captured by KBC cameras but senior police officers ordered the state-owned station to destroy the tapes fearing it might betray them.

When Ruo’s family started exerting pressure on the police by filing a case in the High Court for him to be produced in court, Superintendent of Police Richard Katola, the head of the Special Crime Prevention Unit, added a new twist to the saga by filing an affidavit in court claiming they did not know his whereabouts. In a desperate attempt to cover up the execution and divert attention, Katola claimed the police were also looking for Ruo over other criminal matters! The trick worked and gave the police a much-needed temporary reprieve.

It has since emerged that police had gotten wind before the judgment was read in court that Ruo was to be acquitted. Ruo did not know detectives in plain clothes lay in wait for him outside the High Court when he was acquitted. As he strode out of court in a jovial mood eager to be re-united with his relatives, he did not know that death lurked in the shadows. Ruo’s co-accused, John Kamunya, alias Maina Njenga, ended up being the luckier one as he was sentenced to five years in jail for possessing a gun and nearly 5kg of marijuana.

Ruo’s saga will one day haunt the police like the 1987 Mbaraka Karanja execution riddle.

For those of you who might not recall the Mbaraka Karanja riddle, the man was picked up by the CID on April 4, 1987, on suspicion that he was a top criminal. Eight days later, Mbaraka had “vanished” from police cells and police were unwilling to reveal his whereabouts or produce his body. Interestingly, his body "disappeared" and police later claimed it was buried in a mass grave at the Eldoret Municipal cementry after nobody turned to claim it! Police had picked him from his Limuru home and they knew it very well. Secondly, relatives of Mbaraka started looking for him from the first day of his arrest and police kept sending them on a wild goose chase. The killing led to a protracted court battle. Mr Justice Derek Schofield, who was hearing an application by the family demanding the police either produce Mbaraka or his body, courageously stood his ground that police should honour the family’s demand. Judge Schofield opted to resign when the Executive ordered that he release the case file to another judge.

Before Schofield resigned, he was sent on a wild goose chase by the police when they lied in court that the body was buried in the Eldoret cemetery while they knew very well that it was not buried there. The police, pathologists and mortuary officials faked documents to show that the body had been booked there. In compliance with the judge’s orders, the police dug up one grave after another as grieving relatives of Mbaraka choked in stench. Finally, the police told the judge that they couldn’t find the body!

It emerged years later that Mabaraka was actually killed by police in Karura Forest in Nairobi and his body set ablaze in the forest. By then, nobody could remember the exact spot in the dense forest where Mbaraka’s body was burnt. It appears the police have resorted to their old habits of gangland-style executions after failing to contain the Mungiki.

Even before the blood in Mathare could dry up, police were at it again. Police got wind that there was a group of youths who were taking oaths to be recruited to the Mungiki sect. In what has become an apparent shoot-on-sight policy against mungiki suspects, police sealed off the house where the youths were and sprayed everyone who was inside with bullets. Police guns claimed 60 lives from that house that night. The first statement given to the press by police claimed they had shot dead seven men who were caught in an oathing ceremony. The figure then rose to 27. Strangely, the incident was highly downplayed by the mainstream media.

Reliable information availed to Kumekucha shows that among the 60 dead were six pupils from the neighbouring primary schools. It has emerged that a few Mungiki sect members invited innocent youths of that locality to a goat-eating party without disclosing what it was all about. Knowing how neighbours back in the villages relate in brotherhood, no one could resist the temptation of roasted meat. And when the police descended on the village, they were not interested in making any arrests. Their mission was to send all the occupants in that house to their early graves. The Mungiki sect members and the innocent majority died in that single incident.
To avoid causing a storm, the police decided to scatter the bodies in public mortuaries all over Central province. A heap of 60 bodies taken to one mortuary would have caused a major storm. Relatives had a rough time trying to locate the bodies of their loved ones. And the provincial administration ensured that the relatives did not give them a descent burial. Burials were hurried and no speeches or prayers were allowed.

Officers who have been given the task of monitoring the Mungiki sect members disclosed that the police crackdown on suspected sect followers had claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in Kiambu, Nairobi and Murang’a since June. Although a number of Mungki sect diehards have been killed by the police, the brunt of police brutality has been borne mostly by the innocent majority. Daily Nation last week carried a story of two police officers who were taken to task in court over how they arrived at the conclusion the people they had charged were members of the sect. The formula used by the police to identify and condemn one to be a member of the banned sect baffles even the police themselves! If they can’t prove in court how one belongs to Mungiki, what of the hundreds of those who have been summarily executed unheard?

It is emerging that police were given express orders from higher authorities to execute any Mungiki sect suspects after Internal Security minister John Michuki and Chief Justice Evans Gicheru went on a warpath in June over who was to blame for frustrating the police war on the dreaded Mungiki. The minister is on record as having ordered the police to shoot on sight anyone suspected to be a Mungiki follower.

But by a stroke of bad luck, Michuki ended up shooting himself in the foot when the killing of 60 people in his backyard attracted a backlash from his constituents. Knowing what is at stake with the General Election around the corner, Michuki made a surprise public appearance in Murang’a and condemned the police action. But his scathing attack on the police did not go down well with commissioner Hussein Ali, who called a press conference and dismissed the minister’s remarks as unfortunate.
And in an attempt to please Michuki’s constituents, at least six GSU officers were dismissed over the Murang’a killings. It’s still unclear who sacked the officers since it’s public knowledge that Michuki and the police chief rarely see eye to eye and the latter rarely takes orders from the former.

The Mathare massacre will go down in history as one of the worst incidents of human rights abuse by the Kibaki Administration. And it’s a big shame that human rights watchdog organizations—which were so vocal against every single incident of human rights abuse during the Moi regime—have now decided to turn the other way as state agents arrogate themselves the role of the police, prosecutor, judge and executioner.
The Kibaki Administration has for a long time been accused of only being mindful of the rich. The Mathare killings prove this beyond any doubt. The police action in Mathare demonstrated that the Kibaki Administration criminalized poverty. It is highly likely that some of Mungiki adherents sort refuge in neighboring Muthaiga when things got hot. Why did the police operation not extend to Muthaiga then?

We know the answer to that one. Even if the three police officers had been killed in Muthaiga, it is highly unlikely that police would have reacted in the same way. We would be happy to see brutal police bursting into every home in Muthaiga in search of criminals next time a crime is committed in the neighborhood.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh please, give us a break! These people deserve what they got for harboring these Mungiki thugs. They should learn a lesson about the consequences of harbouring criminals.

And guess what, it works. Now that everyone knows that the govt holds sole monopoly on violence, its all quiet.

Anonymous said...

Kumekucha, this is great stuff. Your superb research makes a major difference between you and the other blogs or the established media outlets like the Nation and the Standard. I’m a CID officer attached to one of the elite units in Nairobi and what you have published is the truth. Majority of us in the CID are unhappy the way the commish is running the force like an amateur.
You are absolutely true when you say the Kimani Ruo riddle will one turn out like the Mbaraka Karanja murder puzzle. Kenyans of today are more wiser and aware of their rights than Kenyans of 1987. The poor Mungiki guy was executed, as you have rightly pointed out. The orders came from police headquarters and the earlier the those who issued the orders were exposed the better. According to our colleagues in the Special Crime Prevention Unit, Katola told them he had been given orders from Vigilance House to have the guy executed. Kumekucha, if you know how the force works, any junior officer has to obey the orders of their seniors. Those who were sent to execute Ruo had no option . They had to obey orders.
In fact, Kumekucha you are behind news. The photographs of the officers who abducted Ruo outside the High Court were produced in court on Monday and 10 officers were identified seizing the guy. Strange enough, the commish disowned the plot to abduct and kill Ruo and told the court the 10 officers have to carry their own cross. The court has now summoned the 10 officers to court to explain what happened. This is sickening. Guys within the CID are so furious. How could the commish betray his own officers over a plot he was very much aware?
The number of people killed under the guise of fighting Mungiki are even higher than what you reported. For instance, in June Katola ordered the execution of three passengers who had been offloaded from a Nissan matatu from Nakuru on the way to Nairobi. An informer had tipped off Katola that the three passengers were Mungiki and a squad from Kikuyu police station was sent to ambush the matatu on Waiyaki highway. A few hours after the three men were handed over to the Special Crime Prevention Unit, Katola called his officers and ordered them to execute the three men. There was nothing to link the three to Mungiki and they were dragged from the offices of the Special Crime Prevention Unit at night, taken to Dandora and shot dead. The press was called to the scene and informed the three had attempted to hijack a vehicle! Firearms were planted on the dead men to convince journalists.
What you have exposed is just a tip of the iceberg. You need to carry out more research and you’ll be shocked at the number of people who are killed daily by the police. Although the law gives us powers to shoot and kill, but it’s wrong to kill innocent people or arrest people and kill them instead of taking them to court. It requires a very courageous person like you to expose these kind of evils. The newspapers have been bought and you’ll never find any truth there.

Anonymous said...

The comment above has really saddened me.It is one of those things that you read and feel insecure. Personally being one of the youth who happens to come from some of the so called "shady neighborhoods" .If this is the appalling state of our Police Force, then this is one of the many things that make Kenya appear on the list of failed states.
But how do we remedy the situation?
First and foremost we should ensure that the people who join the police force are of high academic achievement. Because I believe most of the personnel in the force are semi-illiterate. Especially considering that a good number of them were joined the force during the Nyayo era. Have you ever listened to them speaking? They cannot construct a sentence in either good English or Swahili. A vast majority being from the rift valley. They act in complete disregard of the law.
But the government has to play a vital role here. They should improve their working conditions( better salaries, housing, risk insurance, life insurance, etc etc).In complete contrast look at the Army, there is a good number of graduates who are gladly joining due to the better terms offered. By having a well educated force, professionalism is going to be realized and such acts being perpetrated by the police now would be a thing of the past.
It's just a thought however. My thoughts.Have your say.

Nyani said...

The issue of identifying mungiki suspects is difficult, but we know as much as they are faceless, people are getting killed,nay, skinned! It is sickening. Whether it is the law enforcers or the thugs carrying out their heinous crimes you will find people caught in the middle which is very frightening if you put yourself in such a situation. But for me i say if the massacre will silence the muderous gangs, so be it. The Mathare residents accepted to be held hostage by these gangs, to the extent that all services including electricity and security, are provided by these gangs; now the chickens have come home to roost for them. And this guy claiming to be a CID, for all intents and purposes may be a human right activist or Mungiki, so i take the comment with an open mind. Having said all that i must condemn innocent blood being shed and all i would say to fellow kenyans is to exercise caution in our daily activities.

Anonymous said...

I support our cops on this one. Do you guys know the danger our police face everyday trying to maintain peace in our coutry.How come I never hear all these human rights bullshit when the police are the victims?

We need the govt to come strongly against Mungiki coz the courts have failed us.

Have you ever wondered why lynching criminals thrives in Kenya, its because mwananchi has no trust in our legal system so they'd rather finish off these thugs hapo hapo than have them arrested only to see them back in a few days, terrorising their victims with a vengeance.

How many Mungiki suspects do you know of who have been brough to justice? very few, and even these ones where prosecuted on lesser crimes like drug/gun possesion.

Guys,people should fear the police. The moment the police lose monopoly on violence, then anarchy follows. So whatever it takes to reinforce this nortion, so be it. Of course during warfare, there are innocent victims. But the means justifies the end.

Furthermore, these communities will now think twice about allowing Mungiki in their midst. They will think twice before joining Mungiki. They will tip the police about any Mungiki in their midst.

And like i said before, have you noticed that Mungiki activities have declined since the police unleashed violence on them. Now Mungiki knows who has more firepower, now they are terrified and are on the run. And that's the way it should be.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I can’t believe what I am reading. For those who are publishing here in full appreciation of the brutal ways of our police force. How on earth can you condone the acts of this gang? That’s what the majority of our police force is. A brutal gang far more dangerous than mungiki. What needs to be done is what was said above; A reform of our police force. Improve the quality of it, and get people who are educated on the force.
And to that idoit, who supports random acts of capturing and assassinating people without any proof linking them to any criminal organization, karma is going to get you and I wonder what will be going through your skull when you face this same fate… apart from a bullet of course.

Anonymous said...

Sources indicate that the killings in Mathare were not that random, the GSU asked for IDs and specifically targetted Kikuyus for obvious reasons.

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