Mbui Nzau township on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway witnessed a rare spectacle yesterday when some villagers returned goods stolen from a lorry that had overturned.
The lorry was transporting household goods and personal effects belonging to Catholic priests from Nairobi to Kibwezi when the accident happened on Tuesday night.
The driver, Mr Musembi Ngunga, said thugs armed with pick axes broke into the lorry and carted away the valuables as he watched from a safe distance.
"More than half of the cargo was stolen and the rest destroyed," Mr Ngunga said in his statement at Makindu Police Station. By Wednesday morning, word had gone round that the items stolen belonged to Catholic priests.
Some residents threatened to hold special prayers to curse the thieves for stealing from the church.
"When I learned that the items had been stolen, I threatened to organise a special mass where the thieves would be cursed.
"No one should steal from the church. Shortly afterwards, people known to the residents started trooping to the market carrying the items," Mr Aron Keli, a staunch Catholic, told the Nation.
Mesmerised residents watched for hours as people known to them emerged from the villages carrying assorted medical equipment, gas cookers, seats, mattresses, and assorted religious items. They heaped them at the centre of the market and trooped back to the villages with their heads hanging in shame.
Those who spoke to the Nation said the items had been sold to them by some youths.
Detectives from Kibwezi Police Station who visited the scene were advised by local elders to leave to avoid scaring away the repentant villagers.
"We are glad no one was injured during the theft. We have informed the priest in charge of Kaunguni Catholic Mission and Nguumo Chief Tobias Mutuku.
"We expect them to help us in sorting out the items. Afterwards we shall deal with the thieves because they are well known to us," Mr Keli added.