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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Kenyan jailed for taking oath
A Mungiki gathering
The Mungikis claim to have 4 million members
A follower of a Kenyan controversial sect has been jailed for four years for taking an oath binding him to the outlawed group.

Landry Sironga, who was charged with 14 others, admitted being a member of the Mungiki sect in a Nairobi court, the Kenyan daily, The Daily Nation, reported on Wednesday.

Mungiki sect
Based on Kikuyu traditions
Advocates female circumcision
Known to beat up and strip women dressed in trousers
Moving into Nairobi's bus industry
The police said they found him naked during the sect's initiation ritual in downtown Nairobi last Friday.

The Kenya Government has banned the sect - accusing it of being a criminal organisation bent on causing tribal division and violence.

The Mungiki sect, whose members are predominantly ethnic Kikuyu, says it urges its followers to return to traditional lifestyles.

The Nairobi court was told that the police recovered three basins full of blood and other Mungiki paraphernalia.

The police said more than 100 people took part in the ritual.

Those who denied the charges were released on bail. Their case is scheduled to be heard in September.

Failed ban

In recent months, members of the Mungiki sect have been linked to clashes with operators of Nairobi's private buses, known as matatus.

The sect has been accused of using force to take over the running of the transport business in Nairobi and other towns.

In March this year, the sect was involved in ethnic clashes when their members targeted a largely ethnic Luo vigilante group.

Mungiki members
The Mungikis say they are fighting for African values

The Mungiki sect claims to be a religious organisation whose doctrines are based on traditional practises of the Kikuyus - Kenya's largest ethnic group.

One of its doctrines is to face Mount Kenya whenever they pray. Kikuyus believe the mountain is the sacred abode of their god, locally known as Ngai.

The sect advocates the practice of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation.

Its followers are also known to beat up and strip women dressed in trousers, accusing them of dressing improperly.

The government has also accused the sect of being anti-establishment and supporting the opposition.

The opposition, however, claims the sect is a creation of the government to stir up trouble and give the Kikuyus a bad name.

Although it is banned, correspondents say that the sect still operates widely in Kenya.

See also:

04 Mar 02 | Africa
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22 Nov 01 | Africa
25 Oct 00 | Africa
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