Murang’a’s ‘Kinjekitile’ runs out luck, jailed for two years

Murang'a crime

Police officers and  the public at the scene where a suspected gangster was gunned down in Border Estate in Maragua town. A man who prided himself as Murang’a’s Kinjeketile Ngwale, running from one criminal escapade to another has been jailed for two years.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri | Nation Media Group

A man who prided himself as Murang’a’s Kinjeketile Ngwale, running from one criminal escapade to another for the past six years, has run out of luck and has been jailed for two years without the option of a fine.

Peter Ndung’u Kamau alias Kinjeketile has been on the police’s most wanted list of illicit brew traders, narcotics sellers and instigators of violent attacks in Maragua town and its environs.

Police say that he was reputed to have been visiting a medicine man from Githuya village who ‘treats’ criminals in the name of giving them immunity against arrests, bullets and lynch mobs.

"The said male medicine man cuts his clients on various parts of their bodies and smears them with portions that are sold as a perfect guard against ill luck during criminal escapades," Murang'a South Sub-County Police Commander Alexander Shikondi said.

Kamau hails from Maica Ma Thi village in Ichagaki Location, a village that has known chang’aa trade since 1961.

However, he was arrested and arraigned at the Kigumo courthouse on Monday. Appearing before Senior Resident Magistrate Shivai Agade, he was charged with the offence of manufacturing and trading in chang’aa.

Pleaded guilty

He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced on own admission of guilt to two years in prison without the option of a fine — discrediting his belief that he was indeed a Kinjikitile.

Kinjikitile was a Tanzanian spiritual leader who became famousnduring the Maji Maji rebellion against German colonial rule. He had in 1904 disappeared from his home in Ngarambe only to return after a few days saying that he had been possessed by a spirit.

He further claimed that ancestors had commanded him to lead a rebellion against the colonial rule and gave his people 'holy water' (maji), saying it had been used to treat him against police bullets.

He was hanged for treason on August 4, 1905 and by 1907, Kinjikitile’s followers, inspired by his “bullet-proof” water, insisted that they were immune to German bullets. Over 100,000 died under hails of bullets, making the whole plot a fallacy.

Likewise, in Murang’a, Kamau claimed that bullets could not harm him.

“He claimed he had been fired at many times and that the bullets would miss him with convincing margins that made us believe him,” says Joseph Kahiro, his neighbour.

Attack police

Mr Kahiro says every other time police raided places where Kamau was distilling chang’aa, he would mobilise his ‘boys’ to attack the police with arrows and machetes.

“Kamau would not directly participate in the attack against police, only coming out of his hiding brandishing a machete as evidence of his invincibility as protected by mystic powers of the Kinjikitile in him,” Mr Kahiro adds.

But police now say that the myth had been formulated by the suspect with the aim of indoctrinating gullible youth into his criminal cause.

A February 3, 2021 incident where police caught him red handed in the act of hacking a male victim of his violence in Boarder Estate of Maragua town remains novel.

“Our officers on patrol got intelligence of a gang that was moving from Maragua town to the nearby estate while armed with crude weapons and it was trailed. We bumped into an incident where Kamau was in the process of murdering his victim,” Murang’a South Sub-County Police Commander Alexander Shikondi said.

Warning shots

He said the officers fired two warning shots in the air and that is when the gang dispersed and in the process Kamau, who was armed with a panga and who had inflicted two deep cuts on the head of the victim, was arrested.

“That is when he shouted to his fleeing gang members that they were witnesses that the bullets had missed him since he was the Kinjikitile. We arrested him and he escaped later from the station and the fame of this version of Kinjikitile spread like bushfire,” he said.

The escape was translated by seniors as a ‘release’, leading to the transfer of the station’s commander, Mr Mnaya Ngaruni, and his deputy, Victor Leboo.

Since the escape, Kamau ran away from his village and hibernated to Nairobi where he was employed by his sister.

“He was employed as a casual in his sister’s businesses and it was hard for us to get at him since he would be shifted from one county to another so as to escape our attention,” Mr Shikondi said.

Re-establishing chang’aa trade

He added that on January 7, police received intelligence reports that Kamau was being seen in his native village and was re-establishing his chang’aa business.

“I dispatched Chief Inspector Cleophas Mangut to lead the response to the tip and sure enough, we found Kamau in possession of 40 litres of the illicit brew. We arrested him and he was lamenting that we were lucky that he had not replenished the portion that made him invincible to us,” Mr Shikondi said.

Mr Shikondi said at least 10 of Kamau’s victims of his violence refused to record statements that would have enabled the police to charge him with robbery with violence.

When he appeared in court, Kamau pleaded for leniency, saying that he would reform and venture into bodaboda business.

“The prosecution has demonstrated to the court that you are a repeat offender and sworn affidavits by Maragua Police Station convincingly portray you as someone in need of rehabilitation so that the bad influence and exertion of negative energy is healed,” the magistrate ruled.


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