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The Legio Maria splinter faction headquartered at Got Kwer shrines have called on the government to fast track the violence that erupted during the annual pilgrimage that left eight people dead.
Led by Pope Lawrence Kalul and Cardinal Chamalengo Ong’aw, the leaders have piled pressure on Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and the Director of Criminal Investigations Mr George Kinoti to probe the matter and serve justice to families whose kin perished from the September violent clashes.
Four of the slain church members are set to be incarnated into sainthood after their burial set to be conducted on Wednesday in different venues in Homa Bay and Siaya Counties.
Speaking during a requiem mass conducted Tuesday evening for four of the eight people who died during violent confrontations with police at the shrine, Pope Kalul maintained that the adherents “were casualties of brutality meted by police acting on instructions of a rival group who stormed the headquarters.”
“We demand a probe into the heinous act committed by police under instructions from a rival group who has constantly engaged the church in leadership wrangles. We cannot withstand perennial assaults and deaths in full glare of law enforcers tasked with protecting citizens,” pope Kalul told journalists.
Cardinal Ong’a maintained that police deliberately opened fire, killing five Legio Maria faithful’s on the spot while three others succumbed to gunshot wounds while being rushed to hospital.
“The Legio Maria Church is a law abiding church and we are appealing to the government to speed up investigations over the killings.” He said
In an emotive ceremony the bereaved families also tasked the government to carry thorough investigation and serve justice to their slain kin.
“It pains that my husband left for prayers being a church deacon but the aftermath has culminated in death. I leave it to God if the government will not serve justice,” said Mrs Jacinta Omollo, a widow of one of the victims.
Although there have been casualties in previous confrontations at the shrine, the September 14th violent confrontation was the ugliest of the incidents witnessed since the church was embroiled in leadership wrangles in 2009.
The church has been submerged in leadership wrangles for several years, resulting in a splinter group, each with a pope.
The rival popes Raphael Adika and Lawrence Ochieng Kalul have each been pulling ends, with efforts to reconcile their followers hitting a snag twice.
Mid-last month, the chaos erupted when Mr Adika flanked by armed security officers forced his way to the shrines, which encloses the tomb bearing the remains of Melkio Ondeto, the church’s founder.
Mr Adika and his followers received a hostile reception by followers of the church’s splinter group who pelted his convoy with stones and burnt one of the cars in the entourage to a shell and injured several people forcing police to intervene.
The long protracted antagonism dates back to 1990 after the death of the church’s founder Melkio Ondetto leading to the emergence of two splinter groups.