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Using evil to catch evil: Villagers’ faith in ‘dark arts’ almost turns tragic

              A crowd at the home of Musyoki Syengo who was killed with his wife and two domestic workers on the night of July 4, 2013.  [PHOTOS: PHILIP MUASYA/STANDARD]

By PHILIP MUASYA

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A village that is yet to recover from the shock of a massacre almost plunged itself into more tragedy.

In a desperate attempt to exorcise the memories of the evil visited upon them months ago, residents of a village in Kitui County flirted with danger and came close to getting burned.  

About seven months ago, a gang of bloodthirsty killers struck Nyanyaa village in the dead of the night. In the wake of the attack, 12 villagers were butchered in an incident that continues to haunt the residents of this sleepy hamlet.

With no arrests made so far and fears of the case going cold growing by the day, the villagers resorted to unorthodox means to apprehend the perpetrators of the unnerving massacre.

Fits of convulsions

On Thursday evening, seven men from the village were admitted at Mwingi District Hospital suffering from fits of convulsions and loss of consciousness, following a “treatment” administered on them by a witch doctor.

The seven, who included two brothers of Nzomo Mengi, a trader who was killed alongside his wife Mutei, suffered from severe stomach pains immediately after drinking the witch doctor’s concoction.

In what was a spectacle witnessed by the entire village, the witch doctor in his element proclaimed that even the mastermind of the killings, one Kilonzo Musyoka alias Karunyu, who is at large, would show up in a matter of days.

One of the victims treated at the district hospital said the witch doctor, believed to be from Nyanza, was invited by a villager in a bid to “bring home” the dreaded Karunyu and his accomplices.

“Out of curiosity, we went there and the witch doctor prepared some drinks which he ordered us to take. I had nothing to fear since I am innocent. I developed stomach pains immediately after I took it and passed out,” said Mutua Makavi.

Just like Makavi, the others passed out and started mumbling things as they writhed in pain on the ground. Realising that matters were getting out of hand, the witch doctor melted into thin air as the crowd became charged.

Luckily for the victims, Administration police officers from Mwingi, together with area Chief Samuel Maithya, appeared at the scene in the nick of time and took them to the hospital where, according to Makavi, they were treated for poisoning.

“We are well now, although we are suffering from constrained eyesight. I think it was some kind of a weird trick,” said Makavi after being discharged.

The said witch doctor was later arrested and released on a police bond and will appear in court tomorrow.

During the bloody attack last July, Karunyu allegedly led a gang of five men armed with machetes and axes who descended on the village, some 40km from Mwingi town, leaving a trail of death with bodies bearing unsightly wounds strewn all over.

Among those killed by Karunyu’s gang were his own brother Munyoki Musyoka and the victim’s three children. Karunyu also attacked his cousin Nzomo and the latter’s wife. In retaliation, the villagers burnt Karunyu’s elderly mother and his wife to death.

Escaped arrest

Karunyu, an ex-Kamiti convict, was positively identified by the survivors and has successfully escaped arrest.

Intelligence reports say he was last seen in Garissa town, but there are fears he might have crossed over to Somalia.

What baffles the residents is the manner in which the police remain clueless on the whereabouts of the shadowy Karunyu, who is said to have dropped out of school in Class Three.

A police post has been established in the village, but it has done little to win the residents’ confidence, most of who say they can only have peace when Karunyu is arrested.

Maithya, the area chief called on the residents to remain calm and not to fall into the tricks of con men. “The culprit will have to be arrested one day. Let’s not rush to solutions that might be dangerous to the lives of both the innocent and possible accomplices,” the chief said.