Kilifi parents to be charged with terrorism after children deaths

Members of the Kanisa la Mungu, Neno la Kweli Religious Sect before Kilifi Senior Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku on September 19, 2023.

Photo credit: Maureen Ongala | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The late Wachira Thuo,13, and his sister Wambui Thuo, 11, allegedly died after their parents refused to take them to the hospital
  • The suspects will be charged under the Terrorism and Radicalization Act

Suspected cult members linked to the death of two children in Kilifi will be charged with terrorism and radicalisation, police have disclosed.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigation said the Kanisa La Mungu, Neno La Kweli sect should also be investigated further.

On Monday, the DCI closed a miscellaneous file that had been submitted earlier before Kilifi Senior Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku. The file had allowed them to detain the suspects for the last two weeks, pending investigations on manslaughter.

The DCI stated that the move to close the file followed directives from the Director of Public Prosecutions to prefer terrorism and radicalisation charges.

Mr Kituku discharged the 11 suspects of manslaughter, but they were re-arrested outside the Kilifi Law Courts.

The 11 suspects were taken to Malindi High Court and appeared before Principal Magistrate James Mwaniki.

The DCI asked the court to allow him to detain the suspects for 30 days.

The Magistrate is expected to give a ruling on the prayers by the DCI on Wednesday, October 4.

Speaking to the press in his office, Kilifi County Criminal Investigation Officer, Mr David Siele said they are seeking more days to conduct thorough investigations, focusing on the cult group.

“We are not investigating the death of the children but the organisation (Kanisa La Mungu, Neno La Kweli),” he said.

Part of the investigation will focus on the structures of the ‘church’.

Mr Siele said the suspects would be charged under the Terrorism and Radicalization Act.

“The story of believing that your religion does not allow you to seek medical attention for children and that pregnant women can’t go to hospital is an extreme belief. For someone to meet this they have been radicalised,” he said.

According to Mr Siele, a person who has been radicalised and accepted the belief is said to have adopted radicalisation, which is an offence.

“We want to take our time to gather all the information to convince the court to charge the suspects with the preferred charges,” he said.

The Terrorism Act allows the police to hold suspects for more than 60 days.

The matter takes a twist even as the police found three other children who had gone missing. The children belong to two suspects, Mr Thuo Kimutu Kumbura and Wanjeru Babu from the Kibaoni estate in the Kilifi township.

The couple whisked the children from Ukombozi Estate in Kilifi township to an unknown place on September 17 morning after a police manhunt following the death of their two siblings.

The late Wachira Thuo,13, and his sister Wambui Thuo, 11, allegedly died after their parents refused to take them to the hospital for treatment because their religious faith forbids them.

They were class eight and Grade six pupils at Kilimo Primary School in Kilifi.

Mr Siele said a relative sneaked the children back to Kilifi from their hideout in Rongai, Nairobi.

“We liaised with our officers in Ongata Rongai but the family started dodging us and switched off all their phones,” he said.

The County Investigating boss confirmed that the children were stable health-wise. The Department of Children Services has rescued the children.

Other members of the cult are Simon Njue Babu, the church elder, Francis Kimani Buuru, Karimi Njiru, Patrick Nyaga Njuki, Muthoni Njue, Regina Ndung’u, Wangari Muthoni and Kaari Mwaniki.

Mr Joseph Mwatsuma, a Kilifi taxi driver who used his car to ferry the body of one of the minors from their home to the morgue, was arrested and the vehicle detained.

An autopsy has already been done on the two bodies.

The bodies are at the Kilifi County and Referral Hospital mortuary even as the parents and relatives demand the court to allow them to bury their children.