As always, I constantly have feet and thoughts in multiple parts of the world simultaneously. Even though I type this from Romania, I just received the following newspaper article (edited and abridged) concerning violence in the Mathare Valley Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. One of our partner organizations, Fountain of Life America, has a team there right now. I will also be in Mathare with a group in mid July. We ask for your prayers for the current team and their ministry in the area during this time of bloodshed in the slum.
Please note that street youths are very much a part of this gruesome picture – youths that can be rescued by the church today…and younger children that can be saved before becoming part of their numbers.
Thursday June 7, 2007
Mathare War Rages
The Mungiki Sect left behind the most gruesome handiwork of their murderous march yet after they killed a man, beheaded him, and carved out his lifeless body in indescribable fashion.
With it, they left the residents of Mathare slum, arguably Nairobi’s second largest informal settlement with about 500,000 people, shell-shocked, struggling to come to terms with the bloodletting.
Residents and passersby, their faces a mask of horror and mouths agape, watched the spectacle from a distance, baffled.
And last night, another head believed to belong to a missing police officer was found in Nairobi River.
Police officers were mobilized to find the torso, which was still missing by the time of going to press.
In Mathare’s Mlango Kubwa, the audacity and sheer cold bloodedness with which the killers went about the gruesome act left even security officers groping in the dark.
About 20 officers armed with rifles arrived at the scene and cordoned it off, before setting about the morbid exercise of retrieving the parts.
Number of dead unknown
Only a handful of people visited to collect bodies of relatives, whose deaths were unrelated to Monday’s police crackdown, a retaliatory mission triggered by the killing of two officers on patrol in the crime-infested slum. Twenty-seven people lay dead when the guns finally fell silent.
At one point, a police Land Cruiser from Muthaiga Police Station drove into the mortuary in the afternoon to off-load its grisly cargo: the torso of a man whose head had been recovered earlier in the morning.
One of the witnesses, a man who sold body bags and who had unlimited access to the morgue, said he witnessed bodies "piled-up" on the floor the morning after the killings.
"I went there (mortuary) in the morning (Tuesday). The bodies were piled up in one corner of the room. Walikuwa ma vijanaa (They were youths)," he said.
Another colleague who spoke to The Standard moments later was forthcoming: "The bodies were many. Maybe 25 or more. "Waliletwa na wakamwagwa hapa usiku". (They were brought and dumped here)," he said.
It took police with the help of Mathare residents over an hour to trace and retrieve the torso of the victim of the Mlango Kubwa gruesome murder from the dirty water. No one among the residents claimed to have witnessed the killing.
Men have deserted slum
Men are said to have deserted the slum in droves, leaving behind only women and children as police announced they had killed another suspect on Tuesday night.
Two other Mungiki suspects were gunned down as they prepared to meet at a Mathare riverbank.
This unfolded as hawk-eyed police lay in wait at the City Mortuary, screening all arrivals while hoping to catch up with anyone remotely linked to the victims of the Monday night massacre in Mathare. The bodies lay in the cold rooms awaiting identification by the next of kin, friends or sect members.
By late last evening, no one had turned up at the morgue to identify the bodies. With Flying Squad and regular police officers alternately driving in and out of the morgue, a pulsating sense of uncertainty hung around the place.
"We suspect that most of those killed by police in Mathare may have been youths staying alone," a City Council official manning the mortuary gates told The Standard.