Kenyan flees after murder in New Zealand

Moves broadened to have a Kenyan man suspected of killing a fellow countryman in the city of Christ Church taken back to New Zealand as police named the victim.

Lydia Munene is lying in a coma in a New Zealand hospital following the attack.

Lydia Munene is lying in a coma at a New Zealand hospital following the attack.

The slain man was Stephen Mwangi Maina, 38, a close friend of Lydiah Muthoni Munene, 34, who was found badly injured in a dwelling in suburban Avonhead on Monday night. She was covered in a blanket in a bedroom of the house while Mr Maina was found dead on a bed in the same room.

Lydia’s estranged husband, Samuel Ngumo Njuguna, 39, flew out of New Zealand at the weekend (September 13), headed for Kenya. He boarded a Sunday morning flight from Auckland International Airport and is understood to have arrived in Kenya on Tuesday morning (September 15). Mr Njuguna and Ms Lydia Munene have lived in New Zealand for many years.

New Zealand’s Police have alerted Interpol and Kenyan police in an effort to track down Njuguna. However, the move may run into legal challenges as there is no extradition agreement between Kenya and New Zealand.

Read more of this story from the Kenya Stockholm blog >>

Additional reporting from Kim Media Group >>

Advertisements

Ali: a very effective police boss

Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali is, without doubt, the most effective police chief Kenya has seen in a long time.

When he got the job back in 2003, the Kenya Police had practically ceased funtioning as an institution. While there is currently lots of talk about police reforms, the situation back then was extremely bad.

Police patrols had stopped. There were no vehicles as most lay grounded in government yards across the country. The few police stations with vehicles did not have money for fuel. Police housing was in a deplorable state. The police command was not working thanks to corruption, under-funding, political interference and plain incompetence.

Crime was at an all time high, as Kenyans got used to car-jackings, robberies, burglaries, cattle rustling and political violence. There seemed little that anybody could do about it, as the Police Commissioner’s office became a revolving door of top cops leaving in frustration.

Critics of Ali would argue that nothing much has changed. For sure, Kenya still experiences a relatively higher crime level compared to similar countries in the region. Robberies, burglaries, cattle rustling and political violence plague the nation. Memories of the 2007 – 2008 political and ethnic clashes are fresh in the minds of many, and have provided ample ammunition for Ali’s critics who describe him as a failure because of the bloodshed.

Police housing has only witnessed a marginal improvement despite billions invested in new units. It seems there was such a huge backlog of housing that it will be a long time before police officers can live in comfort.

However, the problems of crime, cattle rustling, political violence and ethnic militias are a result of structural problems in Kenyan society and should not be blamed on one man. Indeed, some of Ali’s critics have been implicated in the violence that left over 1,500 people dead after the 2007 elections.

Crime is caused by a growing youthful population that cannot find enough jobs, and therefore joins criminal gangs to gain psychological and financial security. This is why groups like Mungiki and others exist. Extreme income inequalities between Kenya’s elite and the majority poor have worsened the bitterness felt by disenfranchised youth.

Cattle rustling is a result of competition for pasture and water mostly in the arid and semi arid areas of Kenya. Since communities see little chance of growing their herds in the face of climate change, the obvious solution is to raid their neighbours for more livestock. Politicians have worsened cattle rustling by either inciting their constituents or defending them from arrest.

Political violence is another structural failure in Kenya that Maj Gen Ali could not solve. Politicians and their parties are quick to play the ethnic card whenever they are arrested for criminal activity. They make it seem as though their tribe is under attack.

Without comprehensive reforms in Kenya’s political, economic and social dimensions, no police commissioner can salvage the situation.

Nevertheless, Maj Gen Ali did his best. Under his six year tenure, Ali re-introduced police patrols across the country. He re-equipped the police force with new patrol vehicles and trucks. He helped supply officers with modern policing equipment. He increased the recruitment of police officers as part of a long-term revitalization strategy. He improved the flow of information between the police and the public, with the best highlight being a video on the Mount Elgon operations against the Sabaot Land Defence Force.

Maj Gen Ali was a no-nonsense police chief who believed in using all available means to get the job done. For this reason, he got in trouble with the international community for ordering the abduction and execution of thousands of people in 2006 as part of the “War against Mungiki.” This will remain a blot on Ali’s career. (Search the Nairobi Chronicle for articles on extra judicial killings)

It is unfortunate that Ali’s tenure at the helm of the police force has become victim to the Kibaki – Raila and Grand Coalition Government political intrigues. Kenyans are wondering how far politicians will go to destroy the country’s vital institutions for purely selfish reasons.

For sure, the new police chief has a tough job living up to the standards of his predecessor. Mathew Iteere has an even tougher job living up to the expectations of politicians and their demagoguery.

Protect yourself from crime

For many years, the city of Nairobi has been synonymous with high crime levels but the recent crime wave has assumed a level of viciousness never before seen by city residents. And it is not just Nairobi that is suffering: rural areas have been hard-hit as well.

Most Kenyans are already used to robberies, burglaries, pickpocketing and car-jacking. The latest crime wave includes kidnapping, gang-rape, sodomy and senseless murder. In a rather disturbing turn of criminal trends, there are many cases where bodies are found with cash and other valuables still intact.

Hijacking of buses followed by the mass rape of female passengers has instilled fear among the travelling public. Even men are not immune from sexual assault. People have been abducted from the streets and forced to withdraw all their money from ATM machines. One unlucky victim was kept by gangsters for more than three days because of the daily withdrawal limit. Cattle rustling has spread from the usual hotspots of northern Kenyan and taken hold in Laikipia, Trans Nzoia, Kisii, Ukambani, Luo Nyanza and Western province.

What is driving this new wave of brutality by Kenyans against other Kenyans? The global economic crisis has resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs, or watching their business incomes decline. There are millions of youth in Kenya with little prospects of getting a job and who have lost faith in their society.

A dysfunctional ruling class has cheapened the value of human life so much that the deaths of 1,500 people in post election violence counts for nothing. Many Kenyans lost family and friends to the violence. The 500,000 who became homeless and destitute have received little help. The post election violence had profound negative impacts on Kenya’s psychology and this will take a long time to heal.

As a result of rising danger, it is imperative that everybody takes personal responsibility for their own security. Anyone can be a victim given the wrong set of unfortunate circumstances. Here are a few tips to practice everyday:

  1. Learn to trust your instincts: if something or somebody makes you uncomfortable, leave immediately.
  2. Be alert to your surroundings in order to detect anything abnormal.
  3. Avoid deserted lanes, footpaths and highways.
  4. Avoid staying out late in the night.
  5. As much as possible, get a friend to accompany you to a bar or club in order to minimize the chances of getting your food or drinks spiked with drugs.
  6. Do not pick strangers in the bar or the streets. Many men have lost possessions after they were drugged by commercial sex workers.
  7. Do not give out personal information to strangers. Do not discuss your personal details or travel plans in a public area. Potential kidnappers could take advantage of such information to target you.
  8. Do not give out account details and passwords over the telephone or email. Banks and credit card agencies will never ask for such information in such a manner.
  9. Minimize night travel on long-distance buses.
  10. Do not walk around with jewellery, expensive mobile phones and laptop computers.
  11. Avoid carrying large sums of cash. In these days of M-Pesa, Zap, bankers cheques and electronic cash transfers, it is unnecessary to move around with huge wads of money.
  12. Do not use ATM machines late at night. Even during the day, avoid isolated ATMs or those located directly on busy streets.
  13. For those going out on blind dates (thanks to the Internet), never agree to meet in an isolated location. Do not allow your new date to take you away from public view. You could become a victim of kidnapping.
  14. When visiting public parks (Uhuru Park, Arboretum, Mama Ngina Drive, Hippo Point, Menengai Crater), make sure you leave by nightfall. Thugs usually take advantage of the sunset to launch attacks.
  15. If you happen to be attacked by criminals, co-operate and never look them in the eye.

Teach these tips to your children. Its not about being paranoid: it is about staying safe. Being alert is not the same as being scared.

More killings feared as Kibaki vows new Mungiki war

President Mwai Kibaki has vowed to crack down on the Mungiki sect even as torture and disappearances undermine ongoing government efforts of eradicating the sect.

The President is enraged by the killings of at least 10 people in his parliamentary constituency. The dead are believed to have been executed by Mungiki adherents, who are known for demanding protection fees from retail business, land owners and transport operators across Central Kenya, Nairobi and parts of the Rift Valley.

Since June 2007, at least 600 youths have been killed for alleged involvement with Mungiki. Scores of others have simply vanished after they were arrested.

Survivors and civil society accuse the Kenya Police for the deaths and disappearances, a claim the police Commissioner has denied several times. However, former internal security minister, John Michuki, was quoted last year saying that funerals of Mungiki youth would become a common occurence.

Mungiki is an underground movement among the Kikuyu ethnic group, drawing its membership from youths in squatter settlements and urban slums. The group advocates a return to Kikuyu traditional customs saying that modernity has failed to ease human suffering.

Mungiki leader, Maina Njenga, is serving a jail sentence for drugs and weapons possession but the sect describes the charges as a fabrication meant to curtail its activities.

Njenga began Mungiki in the mid 1980s in the Rift Valley province. His movement grew in numbers in the 1990s following clashes inflicted on the Kikuyu by forces loyal to President Daniel arap Moi.

The 1990s were a period of rapid economic liberalization in Kenya coupled with globalization, resulting in massive unemployment coupled with the loss of societal values. Rising crime and crumbling state authority added to the difficulties.

Within the shanties of the Kikuyu homeland and the capital city Nairobi, Mungiki restored order and provided basic social services in exchange for protection fees by households and businesses. By the early 2000s, Mungiki membership was estimated at over 1 million.

Since then, the Kenyan government has worried over the motives of Mungiki and sees the sect as a threat. Sections of the government are convinced that Mungiki’s goal is to capture power through its political wing, the Kenya National Youth Alliance.

Mungiki is not a movement of angels either. Dozens of people have been killed by the sect for either exposing the group’s secrets or refusing to pay protection fees. Mungiki does not allow revocation of membership and recruitment procedures are rather nasty.

Whereas President Moi kept the group in check through negotiation, his successor President Mwai Kibaki has pursued a hardline stance. Ironically, Kibaki is also a Kikuyu whereas Moi was not.

Being a phenomenon of the underclass, Mungiki does not enjoy the complete loyalty of the Kikuyu. Majority of upper and middle class Kikuyu support Kibaki’s crackdown against Mungiki, leading many social commentators to draw similarities with the Mau Mau war of the 1950s. Like Mungiki, Mau Mau drew its membership from the poor whereas the educated Kikuyu working for the colonial government opposed it.

Incidentally, John Michuki, the man who predicted Mungiki funerals in 2007 worked as a colonial administrator in the 1950s where he was tough against Mau Mau. Its worth noting that Mungiki draws its inspiration from the Mau Mau rebellion.

The rest of Kenya’s ethnic groups fear Mungiki and support the government’s campaign despite the violations of human rights. With Mungiki’s membership being exclusively Kikuyu, the rest of Kenya’s tribes see the group as an ethnic militia championing Kikuyu interests.

Consequently, there has been little condemnation of the government from the rest of the population. However, this apathy may change as the Kenyan government spreads its tactics to other parts of Kenya.

Security operations in Mount Elgon and the Somali border have been marred by similar allegations of torture, death and disappearances. It may seem as though the Kenyan government is adopting tactics last seen in Latin America back in the 1970s.

Perhaps, Kenyan leaders and security chiefs should familiarize themselves with ongoing legal procedures in Latin America. More than 30 years after the era of leftist groups and right wing paramilitaries (usually backed by military governments), trials are currently underway for those responsible for the disappearances.

Police death squads exposed in Mungiki war

A government human rights body has implicated Kenyan police in the abduction, torture and execution of at least 500 young men. Scores of others arrested from their homes cannot be found.

In its report, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights says that top political leaders working with police commanders were aware of the death squads. Last year, Cabinet minister John Michuki, predicted that there would be “many funerals” of Mungiki members.

The report further accuses police officers of kidnapping, torture and extortion on the pretext of anti-Mungiki operations. For the unfortunate victims, payment of a ransom was no security against death. The commission has documented cases where individuals were hunted down and killed after paying ransom.

Mungiki, popular with disillusioned youth from the Kikuyu ethnic group, is calling for a return to traditional African spirituality. It despises Christianity as a colonial religion. In the teeming slums of Kenya’s cities and in rural squatter settlements, Mungiki has grown by providing casual jobs, protection, housing and other social services.

The Mungiki are calling for a generational change in Kenya to pave way for youthful leadership. According to Mungiki, Kenya’s current leaders are remnants of, “colonial home-guards.”

Since its beginnings in the 1980s, the group’s membership has grown to the lower millions. It has become a formidable political and quasi-militia force that has drawn the wrath of State security machinery. Kenya’s government declared war against the group in mid 2007.

The Kenya Police force, however, faces little condemnation for its actions. The ethnic affiliation of Mungiki has spawned fear of Kikuyu nationalism in the rest of Kenya’s tribes, especially after political and ethnic clashes earlier this year. Consequently, there has been no criticism of police tactics against Mungiki.

Mungiki’s leader and founder, Maina Njenga, is serving a five year jail term on weapons and drug possession charges. Mr Njenga says police falsified the charges against him. After his arrest, the state turned Mr Njenga’s mansion in Kitengela into a, “police station.” Kenyan police rarely confiscate property from criminal suspects.

Earlier this year, Njenga’s wife, Virginia Nyakio, was abducted, raped and beheaded by persons believed to be working for the state. Within a few days, two top officials of the Kenya National Youth Alliance – Mungiki’s party – were gunned down by unidentified people along the Nairobi – Naivasha highway. The two were on their way to see Mr Njenga in prison. One of the dead was a brother to Virginia Nyakio’s driver. According to eye-witnesses, the gunmen in the daylight shooting first identified themselves as police.

Mr Njenga has vowed not to allow the funeral of his murdered wife until the government drops all charges against him. Her body has been lying in a morgue ever since.

In April, Mungiki engaged riot police in national demonstrations to protest constant killings. Railway lines were uprooted and national highways blocked. The violence ended when Prime Minister Raila Odinga offered to negotiate with them. Police withdrew from Maina Njenga’s mansion in an apparent goodwill gesture from the government. Television footage showed the building suffering from extreme vandalism. Apparently police officers lit cooking fires on the living room floor.

The report by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission accused police of using unmarked vehicles to abduct Mungiki youth, most of whose bodies have been found in woodlands outside the capital city. Police deny they are involved in the killings. However, in parts of Central Province and in the slums of Nairobi, young men live in fear of abduction.

Public opinion in Kenya is split between those calling for dialogue with Mungiki and those insisting on tough measures. Majority of Kenyans associate Mungiki with extortion, crime and murder.

Numerous scholars and journalists have attempted to analyze Mungiki. The explanations of the Mungiki phenomenon are as varied as the number of papers and press articles about the group.

However, all agree that the Mungiki is a product of a dysfunctional society and without a change in the way Kenya is governed, Mungiki is likely to become a much bigger and dangerous phenomenon.

“I knew Naivasha vampire rapist”

Written by Willy, in response to our call for comments from Naivasha residents.
******************************

I lived in Naivasha between 1994 and ‘96, between 2001 and ‘02 and again between March & May, 2008.

In Naivasha, you can “touch loneliness, poverty” and everything in between … Add all that to the level of illiteracy (especially amongst the young!) and all you get is Foko. By the way, I know the fellow; he lived a few blocks away from our plot down there.

The best solution I think is getting more people to attend schools, colleges/universities from that area. The ignorance is just too much. There are numerous good efforts with colleges sprouting everywhere — but will the people learn? I don’t know.

For several reasons:

a) Majority of people come to Naivasha with mistaken ideas of loads of cash from the flower business. A good number of these are only armed with a KCSE certificate at best, and in their thinking, have “already finished education”.

b) Over 3/4 of these people are overworked (5am – 5pm, hardwork inside greenhouses while all manner of chemicals are being sprayed!), and paid very little (Ksh 200 at best per day). They are already too tired and exhausted to consider joining some college to improve their chances.

c) The leaders and influential people there are not educated. Take away the former MP and the current one. The rest of the “kerende” haven’t seen much of a classroom, yet call all the shots! Good example to kids/young people? You tell me!

d) As said earlier, most of the people who come to Naivasha come there from the village. They now realize that they’re in a new “city” without parents to check on their mannerisms, drug habits and careless living (read: women).

From these 4 points, does anyone need to ask why Naivasha is the “leading rapists city”?

Vampire rapist: What’s up Naivasha?

The unravelling saga of the vampire rapist has cemented Naivasha’s reputation as the sex crimes capital of Kenya.

Sociologists have a lot to say about the prevalence of rape, incest, child abuse and other related crimes in Naivasha. There has been a huge rise in population thanks to the booming flower industry around Lake Naivasha. Unfortunately, the workers work and live in very oppressive conditions. Add to the mix the effects of ethnic clashes that have sent successive waves of traumatized victims into Naivasha since 1992. What you get is a potent social mix of troubled people, poverty, rootlessness, urban crime and worse.

The Nairobi Chronicle would like to hear from the people of Naivasha their views on the area’s notoriety in sex offences. We invite Naivasha residents as well as those who have lived there in the past to give their version of life in this Rift Valley town.

The email address is: nairobichronicle@live.com

Click here for details on the vampire rapist >> (The Standard)