Cult-driven killers could be on the loose, police caution

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019 06:16 |
Kavivya Mwangangi when he appeared before Milimani Law Courts. Police say he confessed to killing Father Michael Kyengo in a cult ritual. PD/ CHARLES MATHAI

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) yesterday raised the red flag over an increase in suspected cult-related killings, with more than 10 cases reported in the past six months alone. 

Consequently, DCI boss George Kinoti has proposed a combined approach to get to the bottom of the matter. 

Because of the secret nature of cultism and the complexity of dealing with such killings, Kinoti has proposed a multi-agency approach in dealing with the problem. 

The Interior ministry, headed by Fred Matiang’i, could also come up with a national strategy to deal with cultism without infringing on individual rights.

Kinoti said detectives had identified Kitui and Belgut area in Kericho county as two places where cultism seems to have taken root, noting that several “gullible” people had fallen victim to the practice.

In Belgut, police came across incidents of people being forced to produce particular body parts in order to be allowed to join a cult that promises them “money and good living.” 

“We have to be proactive in dealing with the problem. But that is not the case now since we only end up investigating after the killings have already taken place,” Kinoti noted. 

Among the challenges facing police is the fact that the Constitution provides the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. However, the law is silent on cultism.

Kinoti said there was need for the involvement of various State agencies to unearth the reasons behind the emergence of secret or underground religious movements that pose grave danger to Kenyans.

Root cause

“It has gone beyond us investigating the criminal angle to the murders, to become a complex matter that requires to be investigated fully to determine the root cause. Is it as a result of biting poverty or what is making people to become easy targets of these cults?” Kinoti posed.

He said police had launched investigations following reports that several prominent politicians, business people and members of the clergy had joined cults.

Among the latest suspected killings associated with cultism was that of Machakos Catholic priest Father Michael Maingi Kyengo. 

One of the key suspects in the murder was found in possession of a list of 86 names of people, who Kinoti said yesterday were presumed to be members of the cult. Those listed would be sought and interrogated.

According to another police source, detectives identified contacts and details of several public figures whose names appeared on the list. 

Ritual killings

The DCI boss also disclosed that several murder cases under police investigation had been linked to ritual killings.

He cited the brutal killing in June of Ferdinand Ongeri, who was the Kisumu deputy branch secretary of the Kenya National Union of Nurses, saying his death had been linked to a cult. 

Reports indicated that before his death, Ongeri had travelled to Kitui where he had met two foreigners and a Kenyan.

He went missing in Kisumu and his body was later found in Kimondi Forest, Nandi County. His throat had been slit, neck broken, mouth cut and there were bruises all over the body. 

Detectives established that he had been killed elsewhere and the body dumped in the forest.

In Bomet, police are investigating cases where three men were killed and one injured in two separate incidents. Some body parts had been harvested from the victims.

In one case, the naked body of a middle-aged mechanic identified as Stephen Okoth was found with his left eye gouged out and left ear chopped off. The body had a deep gash on the left thigh. 

Also being investigated is the death of University of Nairobi lecturer Hannah Khahungani Inyama’s son. Police found the decomposing body of Emmanuel Solomon Inyama, wrapped in a blanket, on the floor of their living room, with his mother on her knees in the kitchen praying for her son’s “resurrection”.

In the case of Father Kyengo, one of the suspects is said to have confessed to police that he belonged to a cult and that he had killed the priest in order to join the cult and grow his fortunes. 

South African

Mwangangi Kavivya, who was arrested during a dawn operation in Wanguru, Kirinyaga County, allegedly told detectives that he had cut the priest’s throat after he was told it was a prerequisite to joining the cult.

Investigations are now focusing on a South African based cult, Illuminati Official Clun, which the suspects are said to belong to. 

The DCI has in the past issued a warning about a group called the Young Blud Saints, which targets young university students in Nairobi. 

Its members, the police said, are required to sacrifice what they love most to prove their loyalty to the organisation.

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