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Herders find suspected mass grave in Kitengela

A suspected mass grave thought to be connected to the recent land clashes in Athi River and Kitengela has been found on a farm in Machakos County.

Herders guiding their livestock through the government land on the border of Machakos and Kajiado counties on Friday afternoon came across what they believed to be part of a human hand and reported the matter to the nearby Kitengela police station.

Police immediately combed the area and found more partially decomposed human body parts.

On Saturday morning, police found several skulls and pieces of cloth scattered in an abandoned quarry in the 2,000-acre farm.

Kajiado County Commissioner Kobia wa Kamau, speaking at the scene on Saturday, said the grave could be an important piece of the puzzle that is land clashes in Athi River and Kitengela areas.

“This is most likely related to what happened on March 4 when several people went missing after a feud over land owned by Portland Cement. We have a strong reason to believe that some of the missing people are buried here,” he said.

The bodies will be exhumed on Sunday as a court order for the exhumation could not be obtained past 6 pm.

Meanwhile, Mr Kamau said that the spontaneous land clashes in Athi River and Kitengela areas in Machakos and Kajiado counties are not linked to the proscribed Mungiki sect.

“The battle for land in the area is caused by brokers who had conned land buyers using fake titles,” said Mr Kamau.

Mr Kamau said preliminary security investigations in the county had not been able to connect the clashes to the sect.

“There is no thread to link Mungiki members with the land tussles as of now. We can confirm that illegal land sellers had conned many people who are now rising up against the alleged chief brokers,” he said.

Mr Kamau spoke moments after the County Security Committee grilled the founder of the sect, Mr Maina Njenga, and several of his associates for more than eight hours in Kajiado town on Friday.

Mr Kamau’s team, which included police commander Tito Kilonzi, was trying to establish if there was a link between Mungiki adherents and the land wars in the area.

More than five people reported to be former Mungiki members are said to have died in the last few months over two pieces of land in Athi River.

The 10,000 and 5,000 acres of land belong to the East African Portland Cement (EAPC) but have been invaded by people claiming it belongs to one community in the area.

The matter, Mr Kamau said, was spilling over to the county from Machakos because most brokers had makeshift land selling offices in Kitengela town.

“We are still investigating who the faces behind these land scams are. We are following crucial leads,” he said.