Pastor turned robber: Kitui preacher shot by police was setting up new church branch

Worshippers at the Kitui church whose pastor was gunned down by police during a violent robbery at the weekend are still in shock and disbelief at the disgrace of their spiritual shepherd turned armed gangster.

Interviews with congregants of the Open Heaven City Chapel in Soweto, Kitui County, revealed that the discreet character of the slain pastor, identified as Ezekiel Muinde Mwangangi, shattered the image of a humble, God-fearing man.

“We are all in shock. He was one of the leading pastors who had been given the responsibility of overseeing a new branch at Kauma Market in Kitui West,” said Mr Ambrose Wambua, a worshipper who runs a retail shop at Soweto Market.

Mr Wambua told Nation that there was nothing suspicious about him to betray the trust they had placed in him since he joined the ministry early last year.

“He used to preach in almost all the open crusades of our church and had tarnished the reputation of a true preacher of the gospel,” Mr Wambua said, adding that they wished he survived the shooting to tell his side of the story or face his day in court.

The pastor, whose identity was not immediately established at the scene of the shooting, was part of a gang that last week raided a wholesale shop owned by Muli Munyoki and robbed him at gunpoint at Kavisuni market in Kisasi district.

Read: Police shoot, kill Kitui pastor involved in robbery incident

His accomplice in the robbery – a fellow worshipper – escaped with bullet wounds after the rogue preachers came under a hail of police bullets.

Mr David Munene, the founding pastor who recruited him into the ministry, said he had been subjected to untold police scrutiny and interrogation since the incident, but insisted he had nothing to do with his criminal activities outside the church.

Pastor Munene said the slain pastor joined his ministry during an open crusade in Kalundu market like any other convert and remained committed until he asked to be allowed to open the Kauma branch.

“I’ve had some complaints against him from the believers at the new branch, including that he was hot-tempered and harsh with them, but I’ve been able to resolve them through counselling and dialogue in the hope that he will mature in the gospel,” said the pastor.

He said he had been questioned at least three times by the police to clarify his links with the pastor-turned-armed-robber.

Gladys Nzanga, a waiter at a pub next to the church, said the rogue pastor was always smartly dressed and could be heard leading praise and worship sessions during Sunday services.

In the shocking incident of gospel preacher by day and gangster by night, the pastor was found armed with a toy pistol, a sharp double-edged dagger and a fake police radio, while his accomplice, who is on the run, is believed to be armed with a real gun.


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