Shakahola massacre: What to expect as Paul Mackenzie faces witnesses in terrorism case

Paul Mackenzie

 Suspected Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie in Mombasa Law Court   on January 23, 2024

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The witnesses will be expected to disclose the teachings they received.
  • The fatal fasting was allegedly supposed to end with all the followers and Mackenzie ascending to heaven to meet "Jesus".

Suspected Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie is this week expected to start facing witnesses in a case in which he and 93 others are accused of terror-related offences.

Among those lined up to testify against Mackenzie from Monday, July 8, at the Shanzu court in Mombasa are protected witnesses who are familiar with occurrences at the Shakahola forest that led to the death of over 430 members of the Good News International Church.

The church is associated with Mackenzie and is believed to have provided a platform for radicalising hundreds of his followers who later perished while observing a deadly fast.

The fatal fasting was allegedly supposed to end with all the followers and Mackenzie ascending to heaven to meet "Jesus".

The court previously heard that Mackenzie preached in the church that the only way to meet Jesus was through starving oneself to death.

The witnesses are expected to reveal what happened in the forest and how the church's followers were radicalised before agreeing to die of starvation.

Additionally, the witnesses will be expected to disclose the teachings they received, the individuals responsible for these teachings, how the messages were conveyed, and the specific locations and dates of these activities in the Furunzi area in Malindi between 2020 and 2023.

Mackenzie, his wife Rhoda Mumbua Maweu and 93 others have denied four terror-related offenses.

Mackenzie alias Mtumishi alias Nabii alias Papaa, Ms Maweu, Smart Mwakalama and his wife Mary Kadzo Kahindi and 28 others were charged with the offence of engaging in organised criminal activity thereby endangering lives and leading to the death of 429 members and followers.

Mackenzie, Ms Maweu, Mr Kwakalama, his wife and 28 others are charged with radicalisation, where the state alleged that the suspects promoted an extreme belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence to wit fasting to death by advancing religious change.

Another group consisting of Baron Chahenza and 63 others are charged with radicalisation, where the state accused them of adopting an extreme belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence to wit fasting to death by advancing religious change.

Mackenzie and Mwakalama have been separately charged with the offence of facilitating the commission of a terrorist act, where the state alleged that the two, with intent to commit a terrorist act, facilitated the commission of the act by transporting members and followers of Good News International Ministries between Shakahola forest and Malindi town thereby endangering their lives.

Mackenzie and his wife have been additionally charged with the offence of being in possession of compact discs (CDs), DVDs, books and pamphlets for use in instigating the commission of a terrorist act to wit endangering the lives of the members and followers of his church.

The state alleges that the two suspects committed the offence in Furunzi area in Malindi on different dates between 2020 and 2023.