Police are trying to establish if a Nakuru pastor is part of a car and motorcycle theft syndicate in what appears to be a worrying trend where clergymen are facing accusations of involvement in violent crime.
Nakuru police chief Johnstone Ipara told the Sunday Nation that detectives had recovered three vehicles, two motorcycles, five vehicle engines and two motorcycle engines in the compound of a pastor whom they have so far been unable to trace.
Detectives want to establish the ownership of the recovered items, which they believe to have been stolen, and whether the pastor had anything to do with their theft and concealment.
Mr Ipara said the officers had also recovered eight number plates and assorted spare parts and had intensified the search for the pastor who ministers at a church in Nakuru town.
The possible involvement of the pastor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is just one of the many recent cases in which men of the cloth have been accused of engaging in violent crime.
Two weeks ago, the Rev Kenneth Kimani Gathoni, an Anglican pastor, was brought to a court in Kerugoya town and charged with violent robbery, whose penalty is death.
Worshippers, relatives and friends thronged the courtroom as the court clerk read the charge to the priest.
The charge stated that on May 12, last year in Kerugoya town, jointly with others not in court, he violently robbed Ms Anne Thanje Nderitu, an employee of the Local Government ministry, of an ATM card and a mobile phone worth Sh15,000.
During the alleged robbery, Ms Nderitu, who was a market superintendent with the local county council, was hacked to death.
He faced a second count of being found in possession of a stolen cellphone belonging to Ms Nderitu on August 10, last year.
The priest, who is attached to Mount Kenya South Anglican Diocese, denied the charges and urged the court to release him on bond. But he was remanded to await trial.
At about the same time in Makueni, another curious crowd had gathered to watch the proceedings of another priest on trial.
Fr John Wambua was charged with attempting to murder Fr Fidelis Nzuki, a friend and colleague in the Catholic Church. Fr Nzuki was shot eight times. The case has brought two priests face to face in the courtroom; one in the dock and the other in the witness stand.
“I arrived at the parish at around 7 p.m., we had supper together with the accused and three other colleagues at around 9 p.m. I retired to sleep in one of the rooms,” Fr Nzuki told the court.
He said that at about 3.15 a.m. he was woken up by gunshots.
“There was darkness and we were using light from our mobile phones … Fr Wambua came to our room and told us we were under attack from gangsters,” Fr Nzuki said. “He had two guns, he gave me the short one and three rounds of ammunition and told me to wait for further instructions from him as we pursued the alleged gangsters.”
He said Fr Wambua fired three shots into the darkness.
“He then told me to open the door. It was here that he shot me. I told him, ‘Father, you are killing me’ and he continued shooting,” Fr Nzuki said.
The next hearing was set for May 26.