Murang’a residents turn to witchdoctors to stem rising crime

witchcraft paraphernalia

Police officers inspect suspected witchcraft paraphernalia.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Locals accuse police in the area of being complacent in the war against alcoholism and drug abuse,
  • Area MCA Charles Mwangi said he does not support witchcraft as a means to an end.

Residents of Ichagaki location in Murang’a County are a tired lot.

If it is not thieves breaking into their homes and stealing valuables, it is chang'aa brewers who are wreaking havoc on the lives of young men and women.

Locals accuse police in the area of being complacent in the war against alcoholism and drug abuse, but police deny this assertion, saying they are doing their best to eradicate the vice.

And now, almost appearing to run out of options, residents are thinking of using alternative means to safeguard their peace and livelihoods: Witchdoctors.

The Ichagaki gangs have become more active following a sustained crackdown on chang’aa brewers in the area and, where rendered jobless, the youthful distillers have resorted to theft.

Some publicly argue that if the government does not allow them to remain active in the illicit brews trade and not give them an alternative, they will continue raiding homesteads for livelihoods.

Area residents association committee member James Waweru told the Nation in Kianjiru-ini village that the security situation is dire.

“We cannot empower ourselves economically by rearing livestock since there are youthful gangs raiding our homes and stealing them even in broad daylight,” Mr Waweru said.

The gangs have stolen 200 hens, 10 goats, 18 pigs, two cows and one donkey.

Mr Waweru said the gangs are well known and reports about them have been made to the authorities.

“But we are being told to make efforts and catch them red-handed and hand them over to the police together with exhibits,” he said.

“Since these gangs do not seek appointments from victims they intend to rob, it has been very hard to get them in the act, hence the police demand is impossible to meet. We have decided to hire services of witchdoctors to win for ourselves economic freedom from these gangs,” Mr Waweru continued.

Fighting crime

He said involvement of witches in fighting crime will result in the “gang members losing their minds once they steal.”

However, this assertion has divided opinion in the area, some supporting it by arguing that “if you are not a thief you have nothing to fear”.

Bishop Julius Kagiri of the Holy Tabernacle Church of Christ argued: “It is not a good thing to show our children that a Christianity dominated community can resort to trusting and believing in powers of darkness.”

In 2014, a former Chief Justice said, tongue in cheek, that some of the disputes Kenyans rush to court can be resolved by witchdoctors.

And area MCA Charles Mwangi said he does not support witchcraft as a means to an end.

“Rather, I would call upon our police officers to move in and investigate and arrest all the miscreants troubling our people. The problem is big because many youths being advised to venture into legal occupations as a way of earning a livelihood cannot venture into agribusiness since their projects, assembled through borrowed or donated capital, will be stolen by the gangs,” he said.

Maragua MP Mary wa Maua urged the Interior Ministry to increase the number of officers in the area as well as post at least two more patrol vehicles to enhance policing efficiency in the area.

Murang’a County Commissioner Mohammed Barre said he has information about the war against illicit brews and narcotics in Ichagaki.

He said the government will not buy the gangs’ blackmail that, if not offered an alternative, they will continue raiding households for upkeep.

“We will not negotiate with these gangs on that front. What I know and I'm acting on is that it is criminal to deal in illicit brews and narcotics as well as stealing or robbing. There is no way we will entertain the thought that we will set aside a criminal enterprise for the jobless. Such are mad concessions demanded by people driven by no sane ideology but mischief and our answer is that we will hit them hard,” he said.

Whether the traditional healers will crack this one, only time will tell.

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