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UNAFRAID OF MUNGIKI, HE FEARED WITCHCRAFT

Mungiki crime buster takes secrets to grave

One of Nairobi's star police officers spearheaded the battle against brutal, strong-arm cult

In Summary

•  Top cop Njue Njagi crushed  Mungiki l gang in Central and Nairobi in bloody wars in 2007-08

• He died on March 11 and will be buried on Friday at his farm in Ol Joro Orok

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Image: FILE

Crime-buster cop Njue Njagi will be remembered for ruthlessly crushing the outlawed Mungiki gang in Central and Nairobi.

Njagie died on March 11 of an undisclosed illness. He was  66.

The father of four will be buried today at his farm in Ol Joro Orok, Nyandarua county. 

For years, Njagi was a famous figure at scenes of gory shootings. He spearheaded the anti-Mungiki squad, codenamed Eagle. 

However, he took to his grave the secrets of the bloody Mungiki wars of 2007-08.

Njagi was the Nairobi police chief at the height of the disputed 2007 elections that lead to countrywide violence and bloodshed.

His last posting was in the powerful office of the Director of Operations at Police Headquarters, Vigilance House. He had risen to the deputy commissioner, today's equivalent of Assistant Inspector General.

Earlier Njagi was a divisional commander in Nairobi’s Buruburu police division and in Kiambu. Robberies, carjackings and other violent crimes were rampant.

The Mungiki was a major threat. Njagi crushed the marauding youths from the bloodthirsty gang, famous for beheadings.

Many Mungiki suspects were shot dead. Civil society groups were outraged by police killings. Protests did not deter Njagi from his mission.

He had good and dark sides.

Njagi was a jovial officer;  journalists trusted him more than anyone else. Occasionally, he rescued them when reporters found themselves in a tight spot.

Officers working under Njagi both feared and respected him. They worked fearlessly, knowing Njagi had their back and would support his men. There were no leaks.

Njagi didn't believe in excuses or failure. He was a close confidant of Police  Chief Maj General Hussein Ali. 

But Njagi had one other obsession. Witchcraft — he feared it.

Fear of the dark arts is rumoured to be why he moved from his ancestral home in Embu to Nyahururu.

During our numerous conversations, Njue said he didn't trust people from his rural home because some practised witchcraft. He spoke about witchcraft with a lot of humour, but he was deadly serious. 

He refused to shake hands with anyone he feared could be linked to wizardly.

A story goes that once Njagi visited his home area in his official GK Mercedes-Benz. He had an armed police driver and a bodyguard.

The dark Mercedes was a magnet in his village and soon villagers were milling around to catch a glimpse of the machine and the man.

Njagi reportedly ordered his armed driver to ensure no one should touch the vehicle. If someone touched the vehicle and cast a spell, he feared he would crash.

After retirement, he lived quietly, retreating to his farm, site of his burial today.