Shakahola massacre: Sorry, we failed you, CS Kithure Kindiki tells Kenyans

Kithure Kindiki

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki (second left) and top Lamu County security officers in Lamu town on June 16, 2023.  

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has admitted that the government slept on the job, leading to the killing of more than 300 Kenyans by a doomsday cult in Shakahola Forest, Kilifi County.

Speaking in Lamu on Friday at the end of a three-day tour of the county, Prof Kindiki insisted that the Shakahola cult massacre would not have happened if security agencies, community and religious leaders had been vigilant.

Similar to President William Ruto's move last month, CS Kindiki went on to apologise to Kenyans for the failure of both the past and present governments to prevent the deaths of hundreds of innocent citizens at the hands of preacher Paul Mackenzie and his cohorts who hid in religion.

Prof Kindiki warned that there will be no more transfers for security officers who fail to do their jobs, but that he will ensure that such officers are sacked.

Criminals hiding in religion

"It is unfortunate to see criminals hiding in religion. We have people masquerading as Muslim and Christian clerics and pastors. For example, the Shakahola massacre. In fact, I would like to apologise to Kenyans today, as did our President. It's obvious that there was laxity in both the previous and current government regimes that unfortunately led to the death of many citizens in Shakahola. I do not take this lightly. This problem started many years ago. If our security agencies, religious leaders and the community had been vigilant, the Shakahola issue wouldn't have reached this level," said the CS.

He urged security agencies in Lamu and the country at large to work closely with local communities in their daily operations to effectively tackle terrorism, radicalisation, drugs and other crimes.

"If both security and the community maintain a close relationship, the enemy won't be able to penetrate between them. Let there be a free flow of information that will essentially guarantee a safer Lamu and Kenya," said Prof Kindiki.

For years, Lamu County has borne the brunt of terrorist attacks by al-Shabaab militants that have left dozens of security officers and residents dead in different parts of the county.

Earlier this week, suspected al-Shabaab militants ambushed a security vehicle with a land mine, killing more than eight officers and injuring others on the Lamu-Garissa border.

CS Kindiki condoles families of security officers killed in Lamu Al-Shabaab attack

Prof Kindiki extended his condolences to the families of the officers who died in the line of duty, adding that the government was in the process of modernising security equipment to enable the security agencies to effectively fight terrorists and bandits.

Modern security equipment

"The government has set aside Sh20 billion to purchase modern security equipment, including armoured vehicles, sophisticated guns, drones, among others," said the CS.

Governor Issa Timamy, who was present at the Lamu Old Town meeting held at Mkunguni Square, vowed to work with the national government to ensure that Lamu and the country remain peaceful.

Mr Timamy also urged the national government to help the county resolve historical injustices, particularly land and road infrastructure, especially in Lamu East Sub-County.

"We appreciate the efforts of our security agencies to ensure there's peace. But the main issue here is land. The national government should treat this issue with the urgency it deserves. Once such issues are resolved, Lamu will be peaceful forever," said Mr Timamy.