The number of organized gang groups in Kenya has been increasing in recent years. Most of these illegal agents of justice prefer anonymity. After the armed Al-Shabaab, Kalenjin Warriors, and Mungiki is the notorious Sungu Sungu in Kisii.
Protesting Kenyan human rights groups are yet to defeat outlawed vigilante sects. Equally failing to contain these alleged merchants of terror and death are powerful governments across the world.
Sungu Sungu in Kisii and Nyamira Counties
The idea of Sungu Sungu gang entered Kenya from the neighbouring Tanzania where it had cropped in 1981.
It all started as a legal anti-cattle rustling organization among the Sukuma and Nyamwezi tribes.
The Kenyan Kuria and Gusii ethnic groups would adopt a similar idea in the 90s for supposed tribal defence.
Core interests of both groups have since broadened to include political and socio-economic welfare.
A case in point is the illegal detention and torture of an American based journalist called Peter Makori.
The government of Kenya declared Sungu Sungu illegal in 2007 but its influence lives on.
Interfering with Kisii Community Policing?
Kisii town residents agree that Community Policing is a backbone of security and social stability in the region.
A good number of community policing cases revolve around bad debts, theft cases, adultery, marriage issues, and land disputes.
“Community Policing was aimed at complementing the work of the police force in the region at a time when we had high cases of crime, and it worked well during its initial stages.”Jane Asiago, Kisii town resident.
Fears of Sungu Sungu agents investing their interests in these sensitive community policing affairs are running high.
Community Policing or Sungu Sungu in Kisii?
Community Policing was until recently the most trusted justice system after the Kisii Central Police Station.
That is hardly the case today because personal interests and money rule the day.
For that reason, locals are decrying questionable arrests, investigations, detainments, and judgments in Kangaroo Courts.
A detailed publication by Lance Nyantika of Standard Media mentions a newsmaking anti-Sungu Sungu demonstration by Suneka residents.
According to Lance, a sudden reappearance of Sungu Sungu in 2015 occasioned the demo.
Manhunting, assaults, and extortion of money are some of the complaints presented by these bitter residents to the commissioner of Kisii County.
Nothing much seems to have changed for the past seven years following the record 21 kilometres match from Suneka town to Kisii town.
Further sources among them residents who have sought anonymity feel that Community Policing is a new version of Sungu Sungu.
Kisii Community Policing found unconstitutional
The 2011 “Sungu Sungu: Merchants of Terror and Death in Kisii,” Report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reveals a grievous compromise within Community Policing.
Top in the list of failures are over-stepping on the mandate and unconstitutionally elected membership.
Sungu Sungu in Kisii remains a national threat being a vigilante group operating outside the rule of law. Even worse, the vigilante is taking roots in legal systems.