In the course of the mission, the three commissions have sought and solicited views from various actors namely the Faith Based Organizations, Community and Civil Society Organizations, the Provincial Administration, the Police, the victims and members of the public who shared the information that informs our findings and subsequent recommendations.

These investigations are a follow-up on previous missions conducted by our respective organizations. Further, the investigations have been prompted by reports of continued violations allegedly perpetrated by the outlawed Sungusungu vigilante received by our respective organizations. Specifically, our joint mission sought information on the following issues:

  1. The alleged inaction by the government security agencies to tame crime and insecurity and the alleged failure or inability of the judicial system to deal with issues of crime and insecurity in Gusii-land;
  2. Concerns of rising levels of crime and insecurity in Gusiiland and the emergence of the Sungusungu vigilante group sometimes back in 2003 and whether a clear distinction can be made between Sungusungu and community policing;
  3. The alleged transformation of the Sungusungu vigilante group into community policing sometimes in 2009 and the cases of gross human rights violations and criminality linked to Sungusungu acting under the guise of community policing;
  4. Community perceptions and attitudes of the state and non-state actors towards Sungusungu /community policing and the way forward in addressing crime and insecurity in Gusiiland; and,
  5. Challenges facing the re-integration into society of persons who have gone through the Courts and Penal Institutions.

We must state here that while we hold no brief for any criminal elements in society, we will continue to ask—as indeed we have done time and again in the past—that any issues of crime must be addressed within the clearly defined confines of the law. We are concerned that though some members of the public and government officials have informed us that Sungusungu is no longer in existence and that those who used to be members of Sungusungu are now members of Community Policing, our findings indicate that the groups’ criminal activities are still prevalent in various parts of Gusiiland.

What is more, it is worrying that there seems to be no clear distinction between Sungusungu activities and community policing. While community policing entails an approach that seeks actively to prevent, detect crime, reduce fear and improve communication between the community and police, what is taking place currently in Gusiiland is a serious perpetration of crimes and human rights violations under the guise of community policing. The following are some of the serious crimes and violations that were brought to the attention of our joint mission:


Those who purport to be acting as security providers under community policing have clearly over-stepped their mandate. For example, they are known to make arrests, carry out investigations, detain suspects in illegal holding cells and pass judgments in Kangaroo courts. Additionally, members of the public say that those purporting to be members of community policing conduct night patrols. However, some of the chairs of Community Policing we spoke to categorically denied that these allegations.


Our team was informed of cases where people who were suspected of being criminals had either been threatened or murdered. Additionally, our team was told that in some instances, the victims of these murders are denied burial rights in their homes and directives are given to their relatives to bury them at the public cemeteries in either Kisii or Nyamira towns.


The team received numerous reports of assaults perpetrated by those purporting to be members of Community Policing. A witness told the team of an incident where a man suspected of having stolen money from a relative was seriously beaten and suffered grievous bodily harm. The witness stated thus:

“They tied his hands together and they put a stick between his knees and thighs. They beat him until his testicles were ruptured. They used timber with nails at the end. The nails contributed to the rupturing of the testicles. The suspect died in September 2011 as a result of the injuries”.

It must be noted that the money purportedly stolen was later found by the said relative where it had been stashed in the house after the victim had been assaulted by members of the so-called community policing.


The team received allegations of issuance of threats by those purporting to be members of Community Policing not to report their criminal acts. The threats range from those who have been assaulted by the gang being warned against reporting assault cases to the police; holding pre-burial meetings; or burying their dead in their homes and to only bury them at designated cemeteries. Our team received copies of leaflets containing the warnings. Our team was further told that politicians, public officials as well as civilians are reported to be using Sungusungu to issue threats or assault persons believed not to be in good terms or in political agreement with the said persons.


Our joint mission was told of a case involving community policing members who raided the house of a suspect in Nyamataro together with police from Kisii Central Station. The suspect disappeared the following day and the High Court in a Habeus Corpus application ordered on 9th September 2009 for production of applicant by Commissioner of Police and DCIO, Kisii. This has not been done.


Some members of the public stated that they have been paying amounts of monies suspected Sungusungu members alleging to be providing security. These amounts range from Kshs.30-150 per month per household. However, members of the community policing denied the allegation that they extort or ask for protection fees from members of the public.


There were allegations of instances where those who have reported cases to community policing /Sungusungu, but have no money, have exchanged sexual in lieu of cash payments.


The team received allegations that members of Community Policing / Sungusungu run a parallel justice system. They intervene in domestic disputes and pass judgment, including administering 40 strokes of the cane to domestic violence suspects. They also impose fines and banish offenders who have gone through the Court and Penal institutions from being re-integrated back into the community.


In our assessment, land and property ownership tussles as well as strong cultural beliefs play a critical role in fuelling acts of general crime and insecurity in Gusii-land, leading to gross human rights violations, including the lynching of witches.


From the foregoing, we the KNCHR, the KHRC and the NCIC recommend as follows:

(i)That the relevant state agencies who have abrogated their duties and responsibilities must, as a matter of urgency, rise to the occasion and provide the necessary security that will nullify the need for the local communities to resort to acts of ‘self-protection’ which inevitably lead to the violation of the law. Hence, while we take into account the right of the community to live in safe and secure environments, we must state that the responsibility of guaranteeing this right remains squarely within the mandate of the state security agencies.

(ii) We call upon the investigative arm of the security agencies to interrogate further the various issues of crime and human rights violations identified by our joint mission with the express aim of bringing an immediate cessation of further human rights violations and atrocities.

(iii)We call upon a review of the existing community policing structure in the region with particular attention being paid to issues of vetting and recruitment, adherence to the principles and mandate of community policing so that criminal elements do not operate under the cover of community policing. To this end, we call upon the Commissioner of Police to take notice of the serious lapse in the provision of security in Gusiiland and how an otherwise noble initiative like community policing has been turned into a vehicle for the perpetration of crimes and human rights violations.

(iv)We call upon the State Law Office to operationalise the Witness Protection Agency so that those who have suffered serious violations or witnessed the same can be guaranteed of security and protection should they go to our courts of law to give evidence.

(v) Finally, we call for a multi-sectoral approach involving state and non-state actors to redress the issues crime and insecurity identified by our joint mission.


Signed By:


Ann Ngugi, Commissioner

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights


Mohammed Hallo

Secretary, The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights


Davis Malombe, Deputy Executive Director

The Kenya Human Rights Commission


Tom Kagwe

Senior Programme Officer- Kenya Human Rights Commission