Police in Maua, Meru County arrested eight members of Nyumba Kumi accused of torturing to death a woman on allegation she was selling illicit liqour.
Igembe South Deputy County Commissioner Joseph Sawe said the eight were said to be among people who flogged Ms Rael Nkatha in Athiru Gaiti village, leading to her death last Saturday.
Speaking to the Source by phone, the administrator said investigations have started to establish what really transpired during the incident where the woman is said to have undergone day-long torture.
According to Ms Jerusha Nkatha, the mother of three was arrested by the officials and taken to a secluded place and returned with blood oozing from her mouth and bleeding on her back. Her feet and hands were swollen, with some of her nails pulled out.
“She was dumped on the roadside. She was oozing blood from various places and the waist was tied,” she recounted.
Ms Nkatha said prior attempts to save the life of the 36-year-old woman were thwarted by the hawk-eyed officials who threatened to whip anyone who went near her.
A group of residents, led by Ms. Nkatha, took her to a nearby dispensary where she was pronounced dead on arrival. The death sparked protests in the area, with residents claiming that the group of about 350 has been terrorizing residents under the guise of fighting crime and that sometimes they are used as guns for hire to settle feuds between residents.
According to a community leader Miriti Ngozi, the residents had petitioned the local administrators to revoke the appointments of the Nyumba Kumi officials, saying due process was not followed, while others were of questionable character.
Mr Ngozi claimed that over 20 people had been left disabled after being flogged by the group and asked the government to stop them from arresting locals.
“They whip suspects and I have seen many people who are now disabled due to the group’s brutality. Sometimes they are paid to brand people as criminals in a bid to settle scores between enemies. Many of those who have been beaten up are innocent, including a 60-year old man,” he said.
Mr Anthony Mutembei claimed that the woman who was beaten to death on Saturday was accused of brewing and selling illicit brews yet there was no evidence that she was involved in the trade.
The residents want the team disbanded for being brutal and treating residents inhumanely.
“The Nyumba Kumi committee that was introduced to us operates like a militia and terrorises us. They are so brutal and do not deserve to serve in that capacity,” he protested.
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