We are ready to die in jail, Mackenzie and associates tell court

PAul Mackenzie

Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie follows proceedings at the Shanzu Law Courts during the mention of his matter in this file photo.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

Suspected Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie and his followers have expressed their willingness to die as a result of the hardships they are facing in prison.

Mackenzie, who is visibly deteriorating, complained to the court about the harsh conditions he was subjected to, such as being locked in a dark room for two days without food or the opportunity to bathe.

He told Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda that his attempts to seek assistance from authorities had been futile because they (authorities) were always plotting how to mistreat him.

“My colleagues and I have made a decision. If you feel tired of me and my colleagues, we are ready to be taken to River Yala. We do not have a problem with that because I will die, and you, the prosecutor, will someday die like me. There is nowhere you can hide,” said Mackenzie, adding he has not opened any church inside the prison.

The doomsday preacher emphasized in his plea to the court that he was not sharing these issues solely to secure his freedom, but for the court to intervene and save him from the tribulations.

"I am being held in a dark room, and my request for at least an hour in the sun has been flatly denied. I feel unheard and ignored, and I am not sure where else or who I can turn to for help. If I go to the prosecution for help, they will reject me because they see me as radicalized," he explained.

Furthermore, Mackenzie, through his advocate Wycliffe Makasembo, has expressed concerns about the prison authorities' violations of their rights, isolation, and discrimination. 

“Mackenzie is being served special meals that he fears may be contaminated with intent to harm him. Previously, all of the suspects ate together, but following the court's visit to the prison, he was isolated and is now being served special meals alone," said the advocate.

Mackenzie and his associates have threatened to go on hunger strike again in protest of their treatment in prison.

"If these people go on hunger strike again, the prosecution will be held accountable. I pleaded with them to be good people, and they heard me, but it is unfortunate that the prosecution wants to take us back to where we started," Mr Makasembo said.

Also, Mackenzie, his associates, and over 50 survivors may face joint charges over the Shakahola massacre. 

The State dropped an attempted suicide charge against them and instead preferred serious criminal charges after it became apparent that the survivors could not account for their missing children and relatives, who accompanied them to the forest.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Jami Yamina stated in court that the surviving children, who are of young age, have provided investigators with sufficient evidence against the suspects. 

"These children are still missing and presumed dead. The respondents have not disclosed their whereabouts or cooperated with the investigators to determine what happened,” said the prosecutor.

Mackenzie, his associates, and the now victim-suspects are likely to remain in custody until next month as the state continues gathering more evidence before formally pressing criminal charges.

The State wants another 47 days to detain them, indicating it would be premature to initiate criminal charges before completing investigations into the Shakahola tragedy. 

Court documents show that the State is not yet ready to press criminal charges against the Shakahola team, although potential offenses have been identified.

The State is also waiting for DNA and forensic analysis to confirm familial connections between the deceased and the respondents before pressing criminal charges.

Makasembo, has asked the court to reject the application, stating that no compelling reasons have been advanced to warrant continued detention. 

He also argued that the state has not disclosed the scope of the investigations or what areas are still being covered and those so far covered.

"It is a blanket application. The state has made serious allegations but there is no evidence before the court to show that the respondents are guilty," he said.

The lawyer warned against the continued violation of the suspects' rights due to indefinite detention without trial.

The court will deliver its ruling on August 10.