â€œYoung men were walking in groups. Not only young men because it was everybody in the society. They were all walking in groups, shoving people up and down. In fact, they were chasing the non-Kikuyus like rabbits, and then when one is captured [he or she is] just hacked to death. They were burning properties, and the local women were following them, looting.â€
Thatâ€™s what a woman from the Kikuyu community, who interacted with some of the post-election violence attackers in Naivasha, told members of the Waki Commission when she testified before them.
Naivasha is a town in Kenyaâ€™s Rift Valley region which boasts scenic views and exotic wildlife. It is also home to the vast majority of Kenyaâ€™s flower farms, contributing significantly to the countryâ€™s economy.
Yet, after the 2007 presidential election results were announced on 30 December 2007, the political and ethnic tensions in the town immediately heightened, pitting supporters of Mwai Kibakiâ€™s PNU coalition against those of Raila Odingaâ€™s ODM.
At first, the residents experienced a mass eviction of non-Kikuyu tenants from houses owned by the predominantly Kikuyu landlords who supported PNU.
But, in late January 2008, things changed.
According to the Waki commission, many Kikuyu IDPs, who were fleeing violence in other parts of the Rift Valley, were arriving in Naivasha. They brought with them â€œpainful personal stories of ordeals experiencedâ€ in the places they had fled.
This created a volatile situation in the town: one of revenge attacks against ODM supporters and non-Kikuyus.
The attack of 27 and 28 January 2008
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her predecessor Luis Moreno Ocampo believe that President Uhuru Kenyatta – and people they refer to as his â€œintermediariesâ€- planned for the Naivasha revenge attacks that took place between 27 and 28 January 2008.
Bensoudaâ€™s pre-trial brief, on the collapsed case against Kenyatta, indicates that Mungiki leaders and pro-PNU youth met with Kenyattaâ€™s agents days before the execution of this attack.
During the meeting, Kenyattaâ€™s agents persuaded local Mungiki in Naivasha to join the fight on the PNUâ€™s side. Then, they gave them large sums of money and pangas.
The prosecutor named then MP for Juja, George Thuo, then deputy permanent secretary of provincial administration and internal security, Francis Kimemia, former Embakasi MP David Mwenje, former Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara and Kiambu politician and former Limuru MP Kuria Kanyingi as those who acted as intermediaries between Kenyatta and the Mungiki.
These people, she alleges, liaised with the Mungiki in the planning and coordination of the Naivasha attack.
To boost the numbers, other Mungiki and pro-PNU youth were recruited and transported from Thika, Limuru, Nairobi and Nakuru into Naivasha for the attack.
They were transported in City Hoppa buses and trucks organised by Thuo, who was a founding member of the company behind the City(i) Hoppa fleet of buses that dominated Kenyaâ€™s transport sector after the fall of the stateâ€™s bus company, KBS (the Kenya Bus Service) in 2003.
The transported attackers were equipped with guns, crude weapons, camouflage uniforms and handcuffs, all supplied by Kenyattaâ€™s agents, according to Bensouda.
On the way to Naivasha, some Mungiki members deserted and a local Mungiki leader named Anthony Mwenje (aka â€˜Noriegaâ€™) gathered another group of Mungiki to replace those who had left. The pre-trial brief states that Mwenje received a large sum of money from Kenyatta for the replacement.
The Mungiki arrive in Naivasha
The Mungiki and pro-PNU youth started arriving in Naivasha days before the attack to familiarise themselves with the town. Other groups arrived on or about 27Â January. Members of the â€˜Bagation squadâ€™ were among the Mungiki transported to Naivasha.
The Bagation squad of the Mungiki is known to be a deadly militant crew, which is deployed for violent operations like beheadings. Many of its members are slum-dwelling homeless children who are transformed into hardened militants because they are less likely to have questionable loyalty to the organisation.
In Naivasha, the arriving attackers were joined by local Mungiki and pro-PNU youth, some of whom had been recruited by John Mututho, Jayne Kihara and other community leaders. Locals, predominantly those from the Kikuyu community, provided the visiting attackers with food and lodging.
Bensouda says that before the attack, Kihara held a meeting at La Belle Inn in Naivasha to brief some of the assailants about the plan.
Interestingly, this is the same Kihara who recently confessed to being detained – while on a visit to the US – by security officials who wanted to know about her role in the Kenyan PEV. She is also the same one who claimed that the ICC wanted her to turn on Kenyatta.
Execution of the attack
On the first day of the attack, the Mungiki and pro-PNU youth kicked off their operation in an organised and simultaneous manner from several parts of Naivasha.
They were divided into groups of ten, led by senior members of the sect.
Locals guided them through a door-to-door search of perceived ODM supporters whom they beat, wounded and killed. They also destroyed shops, residences and personal properties of suspected ODM associates.
The attackers dressed in civilian clothes during the day and at night, some wore camouflage uniforms which enabled them to trick victims into opening doors and/or approaching them for help. At times they used handcuffs to restrain their victims.
The Mungiki and pro-PNU youth chanted, sang songs and shouted slogans against supposed ODM followers as they chased victims from their homes, looting their belongings and burning their houses, sometimes with people inside.
As they did this, they also called on other local Kikuyus to join the fight.
The attackers erected barriers and checkpoints on the roads. Here, they identified ODM supporters based on the details on their identification cards and vernacular languages they spoke. Civilians were either left unscathed or violently attacked by the rowdy youth. In particular those from ethnic groups which were believed to have supported ODM were beaten and killed, according to the ICC prosecution.
As a result of the attack, thousands of supposed ODM supporters fled Naivasha for fear of their lives.
Little police intervention
The prosecutor claims that the police took little or no action to stop the Mungiki and pro-PNU youth from committing violent crimes.
To avoid the security forces, the Mungiki commanders on the ground were in constant contact with the overall Mungiki coordinators, Charles Wagacha and Maina Diambo, who were in direct contact with the head of the countryâ€™s civil service, Francis Muthaura. Muthaura provided instructions on how to avoid interference from the police. The police would stop looking into the activities of the Mungiki operatives.
According to Bensouda, Muthaura also directed the Mungiki to a farm, where they could rest without fear of police arrest.
The attack in Naivasha claimed the lives of at least 41 people believed to be supporters of ODM.
The Gambian ICC prosecutor says that when the Kenya army eventually moved into Naivasha, the Mungiki and pro-PNU attackers were evacuated in government trucks organised by Muthaura, while Diambo coordinated their pick-up.
Dead intermediaries and Mungiki coordinators
Unfortunately, some of those mentioned as intermediaries and Mungiki coordinators are dead today.
Mwenje succumbed to an undisclosed illness on 13 March 2008. He was a shrewd politician, one who perplexed many in 2003 when he sought forgiveness from Kenyans for using a private vigilante group, Jeshi la Embakasi, to further his political career in Embakasi. At the time, he said that he had found salvation.
Thuo passed onÂ under mysterious circumstancesÂ in late 2013 while having drinks with friends. It is said that his beer was laced with a pesticide. As a result, the proprietor of the bar and five other accomplices we charged for the murder. Interestingly though, their lawyer Cliff Ombeta wondered why they would want to â€œget rid of a loyal patronâ€.
Kanyingiâ€™s death on 4 November 2014, while receiving treatment in India for an undisclosed illness, shocked his family. Nicknamed â€œMr Moneybagsâ€, Kanyingi was known to be a generous and wealthy politician. Ironically, as per his wish, he was buried in a private ceremony attended only by his immediate family members.
The local Mungiki leader in Naivasha, Anthony Mwenje (aka â€˜Noriegaâ€™), is presumed dead. According to Bensoudaâ€™s brief, he was arrested by police on May 2009, after which he subsequently disappeared.
Wagacha and Diambo are also presumed dead. While Wagacha was reportedly killed by the police in April 2008, Diambo was arrested by police in June 2008. Since then no one has seen him. He is notably one of those who have subsequently disappeared in police custody.
This piece is part of our continuing series on the ICC prosecutionâ€™s pre-trial brief on President Uhuru Kenyatta. Read more on The Hague Trials Kenya website