, NAIROBI Kenya, Mar 12 – The former leader of the proscribed Mungiki sect Maina Njenga now says that over 10,000 youths were killed during a crackdown on the outlawed group five years ago.
Njenga told the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) that he founded Mungiki in 1987 as a welfare group, but his refusal to allow politicians gain control of the group resulted in them being targeted by the police.
Njenga maintains that Mungiki was never meant to be a militant outfit.
“When they saw young men coming together politics and propaganda started; every politicians wanted to divide the group so that he has control over the group or destroy it. It is because of the bad politics that we lost these many youths,” he said recounting the involvement of the group with the Youth for KANU in 1992 (YK92).
He said the group recorded a lot of successes before the interference by politicians with youths fending for themselves through hard work.
“When people are idle they have to look for something to do. We started this organisation because we needed to have something in our pockets,” he reiterated.
During his four-hour presentation to the TJRC, Njenga said such groups will still emerge in the country as longs as youths remain jobless.
“When people are starting these groups, they can air their views if called upon to talk, chances to negotiate are often (initially) denied and are later given when there is already a huge problem,” he insisted.
He told the TJRC that over 75 percent of the former members of the sect were converting to Christianity and working for peace through the ‘Amani Sasa Foundation’ which he heads.
“I used to pray facing Mount Kenya when we started the group. I did not believe in Jesus then. I believed he was a small boy like any other but people are changing and they want to change for the better of the country; people want to change from their traditional beliefs,” said Njenga.
He maintained that the group which had grown its membership to 10 million youths did not engage in fighting and insisted that the incidences in which Mungiki members were said to have been involved were by individuals and not collectively as the group.
He surprised the audience at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) auditorium when he said that he was as worried just like everybody else about the mysterious deaths and disappearances of youths in Central Kenya.
Njenga also told the commission of his experiences with the police during his arrests, detention, release and the death of his wife while he was still imprisoned.
He alleged that his wife and her driver who were murdered and their bodies dumped in a forest were killed by the feared ‘kwekwe’ police squad.
Virginia Nyakio and her driver George Njoroge were abducted in Nairobi on April 8, 2008 but their bodies were found the following day in Gakoye forest, Gatundu.
He intimated that he had had found it hard to tell his three children of the whereabouts of their mother instead telling them that she is studying abroad.
He was accompanied by various church leaders he associates with and young men that are part of his peace initiative.