Shakahola cult: 3 more found, raising number of people rescued to 61

shakahola forest

A Shakahola cult survivor is rescued from the forest in Malindi on April 25, 2023.

Photo credit: AFP

Three more people were found alive in Shakahola forest on Saturday, amid a search for survivors of killings linked to cult leader Paul Mackenzie, raising the number of people rescued so far to 61.

Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha made the announcement, saying the three were adult women. 

In another update on Saturday, Martin Nyuguto, the homicide director at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, said exhumations will resume on Monday.

The exhumations were expected to resume on Saturday, as announced the previous day by Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor, who completed examining a total of 112 bodies over five days.

Dr Oduor said they would focus on exhumations, but that this was dependent on weather conditions and the state of the grounds. The exercise was suspended due to heavy rains, hence the start of the postmortems at the Malindi Sub-county Hospital morgue.

Dr Oduor said the majority of the 112 people died from starvation and some strangulation.

Mr Mackenzie is accused of convincing hundreds of his followers to starve themselves to death in order to see God.

On Friday, President William Ruto formed a Commission of Inquiry to probe the killings that have shocked the country, with more than 100 bodies dug out of mass graves on an 800-acre piece of land linekd to the cult leader.

Court of Appeal judge, Justice Jessie Lesiit, will chair the commission whose mandate will be to inquire into the deaths, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment of members and individuals linked to the Mackenzie-led Good News International Church in Malindi, Kilifi County.

The commissioners are Justice (Rtd) Mary Kasango, Dr Frank Njenga (psychiatrist), Mr Eric Gumbo, Bishop Catherine Mutua, Dr Jonathan Lodompui, Mr Wanyama Musiambu and Mr Albert Musasia.

The joint secretaries are Mr Oliver Karori and Ms Rachel Main, with Senior Counsel Kioko Kilukumi appointed as lead counsel, assisted by Ms Vivian Nyambeki and Mr Bahati Mwamuye.