The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Government Launches Illegal Gang Crackdown

Photo: Capital FM
This photo shows graffiti written by MRC adherents in Mombasa. The group's clarion call is "Pwani si Kenya" meaning Coast is not Kenya (file photo).

THE government has cracked down on the Mombasa Republican Council after it claimed to have found 'crucial' evidence. About five people, including an elder from Kinondo, were arrested Saturday night and Sunday and charged in different courts over hate speech and incitement yesterday.

The wife of MRC spokesman Rashid Mraja, Rahma Ismael, was also arrested during an early morning raid at their home. Mraja's phone, MRC materials and documents were impounded in his house in Kingorani as he went into hiding.

Mraja gave himself up later yesterday and was due to face hate speech charges at the Shanzu law court, at the time of going to press. This is the first major raid conducted by security organs in the region, since the recent insecurity situation that has led to loss of lives.

Mraja's wife accompanied officers to the Makupa police station but was released after interrogation. "They asked me where he is. We said he is in the mosque. They said they wanted to search the house, but I should be the witness during the process, and take note of all that they would take. They left with some MRC documents and also questioned me if I subscribed to what MRC believes. I denied," said Ismael.

She said the officers in plain clothes, save for one, did not harm her. Mraja, a strong supporter of secession, sought refuge at a mosque in Majengo, before emerging accompanied by lawyer Lumatete Muchai and Muhuri official Simon Kazungu.

"They came at 5am when I had left for the mosque. They surrounded the house, searched it, and took some papers, my phone and also my wife along with them. They have left my house in a mess. I believe their sole intention was to get thugs. If they got me, they could have killed me. I am afraid for my life," said Mraja.

Coast police boss, Aggrey Adoli, issued a stern statement that the law would catch up with any person causing chaos. "We are committed to ensure that we bring to book anyone found with the offence of trying to indulge in a matter that infringes on other people's rights. Whether it is tycoons and businesspeople, they shall all be charged," he said.

He said security organs had found the "relevant information" from the MRC, and would charge them "one by one" in court. Two MRC officials, who had been arrested over the weekend, were charged in the Mombasa law court for distributing pamphlets with words "Pwani Si Kenya."

Ali Juma Hamisi and Alibwana Matebe, coordinator of MRC Likoni, were arraigned separately before Chief magistrate Stephen Riech and charged with incitement to violence.

Hamisi was arrested in Mwanzo area in Likoni while Matebe was arrested in Bomani area of Likoni district on October 7. The two who denied the charges and were released on Sh500,000 surety bond.

"The case against the suspects touch on the security of Kenyans," said state counsel Peter Munguti who asked for a heavy bond. The prosecution claimed that the words "Pwani Si Kenya" could lead to disobedience by the people of Coast province.

In Kwale, district CID officer, Mwenda Ethiaba, confirmed that his officers had arrested three people suspected to be MRC members. By the time of going to press, Jadi Saidi Mwachaunga was due to face incitement to violence charges at the Kwale law court

He was arrested on Sunday at about 2.30 am at Mwamambi area in Diani location and allegedly found in possession of the "Pwani si Kenya" pamphlets.

Last week minister Amason Kingi's bodyguard was killed during an attack by MRC sympathisers. Three of the attackers were killed by local people.

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