, NAIROBI, April 16 – The Government Wednesday announced that it had embarked on a massive crackdown on members of the outlawed Mungiki sect who have been reigning terror in the country since Monday.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti told Parliament that the police had launched a man hunt for all members of the outlawed sect, who have been blamed for the killing of at least 18 people in the past two days.
While issuing a ministerial statement in the House, Saitoti said officers had been deployed to all parts of the country to hunt for the sect members, who launched simultaneous attacks since Sunday night and burned nearly 50 vehicles.
“We will not negotiate with this gang. We have launched a massive manhunt for them,” he told the House.
Members of Parliament (MPs) had demanded a ministerial statement from Saitoti on Tuesday afternoon, but the Minister was not in parliament.
Yatta MP Kiema Kilonzo demanded to know what action the government had taken to curb criminal activities of the gang that held residents in various parts of the country hostage.
While responding to Kilonzo’s question on Wednesday, Professor Saitoti announced that 230 suspects had been arrested and were due to appear in court to face a series of charges ranging from murder to arson.
Police statistics show that at least 18 people have been burnt and property worth millions of shillings destroyed since the mayhem started on Monday.
“Police have also gunned down 12 suspects since the crackdown started. This crackdown is going to continue until peace prevails. We will not spare them (Mungiki suspects),” the Minister said.
The sect members have been protesting the murder of their leader Maina Njenga’s wife, Virginia, who was brutally murdered on April 8 and her body plus that of her driver were found dumped in Gakoe forest, Gatundu.
Family members had applied for a burial permit but were denied following fears the funeral would turn chaotic.
On Wednesday, the Internal Security Minister said the government would only allow the burial to take place if relatives assured that it would be orderly.
The sect members and the family of the deceased have maintained that the murder was executed by the police.
But Saitoti on Wednesday dismissed the allegations and said initial investigations had suggested the woman and her driver were murdered due to internal wrangles within the sect.
Following threats from the gang, hundreds of matatu proprietors on Wednesday parked their vehicles, forcing commuters to walk tens of kilometres to their places of work.