Kenya sect leader sent to prison


Jun 21, 2007

The former leader of Kenya's outlawed Mungiki sect has been jailed for having an illegal gun and drugs.

John Kamunya, alias Maina Njenga, was sentenced to five years in jail by a Nairobi court for possessing a gun and nearly 5kg of marijuana.

After the sentencing, his two wives became hysterical, shouting insults at the police and pushing reporters.

Kamunya, now a Christian convert, was last month freed on another charge of recruiting Mungiki members.

The sect is blamed for beheading some 30 people in Nairobi and central Kenya last month.

Protection fees

A crackdown by the police in slums on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi and central Kenya has netted about alleged 1,000 followers of the Mungiki sect in the past month.

"Credible witnesses who are police officers have proved the case against you and I have no choice but to sentence you for the crimes committed," magistrate Rosemelle Mutoka said.

Assistant Internal Security Minister Peter Munya told parliament this week the government was determined to wipe out the gang.

Mungiki followers have been demanding protection fees from public transport operators, slum dwellers and other businessmen in Nairobi.

Those who refuse are brutally murdered.

The Mungiki are thought to be militants from Kenya's biggest ethnic group, the Kikuyu.

Some commentators have linked them to politicians wanting to cause unrest and fear ahead of December elections.

The sect promotes female circumcision and oath-taking and was outlawed in 2002.