Kilifi cult probe: Horror as 18 more bodies found bringing death toll to 39

Kilifi Cult Bodies

18 bodies were found buried in the compound of Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie on Sunday April 23 bringing the total number of bodies exhumed since Friday to 39.

Photo credit: Farhiya Hussein | Nation Media Group

18 more bodies have been found in Shakahola village Sunday, April 23 afternoon, bringing the total number of bodies found since Friday to 39.

An exhumation is ongoing at the land of cult leader Paul Mackenzie who is in police custody.

One woman was rescued in one of the hideouts in a bad state. The woman at the brink of death was indicating to police that she did not want to be rescued.

Woman Rescued

Police and health officials attend to a woman rescued from one of the hideouts on land of cult leader Paul Mackenzie, in Shakahola village, Kilifi County.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has said he will visit Shakahola Village on Tuesday even as he called on the Coast Regional Commissioner and security chiefs to reinforce the team currently carrying out exhumation at Mackenzie’s land.

In a statement shared on his official social media accounts, the CS called out the unfolding massacre of cult members as “the clearest abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship.”

He called for tighter regulation of religious entities including churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues across the country.

The Malindi sect leader has been in the limelight for allegedly influencing his followers to fast to death.

The preacher was arrested on April 15 and has been in police custody since the Malindi High Court denied him release on bond.

They said he had refused to take even a glass of water, on claims he was fasting and praying.

Mackenzie’s troubles with the authorities and local leaders seem to have begun in 2018.

At that time, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, now Public Service Cabinet Secretary, had protested against Mackenzie and his church’s actions, saying the cult leader was giving bribes to security agencies to prevent the closure of the church and his prosecution after allegedly being arrested thrice and then released.

Aisha Jumwa, Kilifi leaders want cult leader Paul Mackenzie locked up for life

A bullish Mackenzie was quoted by Citizen TV during that time saying, “If anyone feels offended about my summons and teachings in accordance to the scripture, let them go to court and produce evidence. I'm not afraid to serve my God.”

In September 2017, police officers raided the Good News International church and rescued about 93 children.

Mackenzie and some church members were also arrested and he was later taken to court and charged with promoting radicalisation and teaching children in an unregistered school at his church.

He denied the charges and was released on a Sh500,000 bond with surety.

During investigations, some of the children interrogated claimed that education is satanic and said they had left their homes and schools to follow the pastor.

Cult leader Paul Mackenzie Nthenge: Education is evil

The cult leader's followers, who include primary, secondary school and university students, defended their decision to drop out of school, quoting Bible verses.