Sungu Sungu (Tanzania)

Country: Tanzania
Details of Formation: The Sungusungu was created by the Sumuka and Nyamwezi ethnic groups in 1981 to protect the groups against cattle theft (Wikipedia). According to news reports, the group first existed in the northwestern region of Tanzania. They were perceived as peasant revolt against established security organisations, because they felt the regular forces had been unable to effectively provide safety. After the government unsuccessfully tried to infiltrate the group, they embraced it in 1983 and declared it a village security organ recognised as people’s militia. Over time Sungu Sungu spread nationwide.
Details of Termination: A news source of 2004 says that the Sungusungu were not armed. There is no further evidence that the group was active after 2004.
Purpose: Before the group became a pro-government militia, the Sungusungu were intended to deal with cattle theft. With their legalization, their purpose shifted towards detaining and trying criminals and were used for law enforcement (Wikipedia). According to news reports, the government directed them to maintain and monitor security, fight criminals and guard the country’s border.
Organisation: While the Sungusungu were initially a network, they quickly developed into formal organisations. In 1989, they were deputized by the Tanzanian government and became more influential than the Tanzanian Police Force in some regions. They had officially been outside the government system until reforms in the late 1980s and 1990s legalized their existence (Wikipedia). News sources report that already before that date government authorities, such as the Minister for Home Affairs Ndugu Salimin Amour, recognized and appreciated the Sungusungu. In 1994, President Mwinyi called for a strengthening of the Sungusungu. Since 1983 Sungusungu was a village security organ. It was an integral part of the general security apparatus.
Weapons and Training: --
Size: A news source from 1983 reports that more than 6000 Sungusungu attended a rally.
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: The Sungusungu have been called out for human rights abuses, including killing people in the absence of trials (Wikipedia). News sources also report cases of torture and disappearances caused by the Sungusungu.
Other Information: Sungu Sungu are also known as Sungusungu or Busalaman; their name is a reference to the Swahili word that refers to a local species of army ants. The name Sungusungu first refered to local vigilante groups but the term has increasingly been used to describe any neighbourhood militia (Wikipedia). The group is independent from the Kenyan Sungusungu.
References: Wikipedia. “Sungusungu”.