Maragua gang forcing locals to raise funds to bail out colleagues

A Maragua town street on July 27, 2022.

Armed gangsters in Maragua town are attacking residents with knives and machetes and robbing them money and valuables in order to raise bonds for their leaders who are behind bars.

The gang is feared in the area and is said to boast of being a government that has a president, interior, defence, treasury leaders and a commando unit.

One of their suspected members who is behind bars is 19-year-old John Nyambura who, in the ranks of the gang, is the interior leader and goes by the alias ‘Kindiki’. He was arrested a week ago for being in possession of illegal brew.

The ‘president’ of the gang is profiled by the police to be John Maina Ngugi alias 'Ruto'. He has several cases running in court and is out on bond.

Ngugi is feared in the town for his "luck" with the law. He has previously been charged with serious crimes including robbery with violence, physical assault causing grievous harm but was freed on insufficient evidence or on parole.

Another gang member who is expected to benefit from the ‘fundraiser’ is Alex Macharia Kimani currently remanded for peddling bhang and who is said to be their defence chief.

This year, police have shot and killed two of the gang's ‘commandos’ -- Andrew Makai, 20, who was gunned down on January 3, and David Irungu, 30, who was shot on May 2.

Victims of the forceful fundraiser report similar patterns of the gang’s attack. Four gangsters pounce on their target and ask them to contribute money or be robbed.

"I encountered the gang near Jeshi la Wokovu church on December 14 at around 11pm. I told them that I had no money to give out and that is when hell broke loose," says Dedan Kimingi, one of the victims.

Kimingi says he was slapped thrice in the face and a knife was pressed on his ribs as one of the gangsters searched his pockets.

"I lost Sh300 to the gang. One of the attackers told me not to worry because their mission is to raise Sh300,000 to bail out their members who were recently arrested and remanded," Kimingi said.

An administrator who sought anonymity said "we have been receiving these complaints from the residents".

The administrator further said that majority of victims do not report to the police to help security agents come up with an action plan.

"The gang is operating in Mathare, Milimani, Kanyumbani, Rurii and Boarder estates. It is true that the gang is posing as a government of its own," the administrator said.

It is in these estates that the gang has safe houses run by their girlfriends and male accomplices in bid to make their operations secretive.

The gang is said to be targeting revelers heading home in the dark of the night.

Some of the residents showed Nation.Africa messages sent to the county security committee complaining about the gang.

Maragua Deputy County Commissioner Gitonga Murungi told Nation.Africa that "it is noted and we on the verge of executing a serious crackdown".

He said his officers have been working hard to ensure the town is safe.

"If you were to analyse the reactions on the ground, many appreciate that we have not been sleeping. There are suspects in court and the most radical have been fatally dealt with. What remains is something small and it also shall be addressed," he said.

However, he added that residents also have a huge role to play in ensuring security thrives.

"This habit of hanging around town past midnight hours while drunk is not wisdom. Suffering attack and not reporting it to police is also not helping us. These gangs are housed by the very same complainants. If we all played our parts, we would be safer," he said adding that administrators have done their part in excess.

Within the past two weeks, more than 15 gang members have been arrested in the town on allegations of dealing in illicit brews, narcotics, attacking victims as well as stealing livestock.

Mr Murungi urged area residents to help security agents deal with all forms of threats to security by way of sharing information.