Prison officials explain why Mackenzie is isolated from other inmates

Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie at the Shanzu Law Courts April 3, 2024.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Prisons authorities have confirmed that controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie is being isolated from other inmates.

Shimo La Tewa prison deputy commissioner Kassim Kimuyu said on Wednesday that the preacher was being segregated because he had been charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). 

Court summons prison official to explain why Mackenzie was isolated from others

"The prison uses a tool to assess suspects or convicts charged under POTA. Mackenzie was assessed using this tool and was found to be at high risk of radicalising others. These tools have been shown to be effective in assessing such risks," Mr Kimuyu told Principal Magistrate Leah Juma. 

Mr Kimuyu also presented the court with evidence of Mackenzie's involvement in radicalisation.

He displayed a notebook that allegedly contained Mackenzie's radical messages.

"Here is just one piece of evidence of radicalisation," Mr Kimuyu said as he showed the notebook to the 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

The Assistant Commissioner went on to explain that the Prisons Act allows for suspects or convicts charged with terrorism to be separated from those charged with other offences.

But he mentioned that Mackenzie always interacts with cooks who are also inmates, but only during the day. 

"In prison, even Christians charged or serving time under POTA are segregated from their Muslim counterparts," he said during cross-examination by defence lawyers Wycliffe Makasembo and Lawrence Obonyo.

As for allegations of a plot to kidnap Mackenzie, the Shimo la Tewa Prisons boss denied the allegations, saying the facility was secure and no such incident had ever occurred.

Suspected cult leader Paul Mackenzie

Suspected cult leader Paul Mackenzie at the Malindi High Court. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

"We cannot rule out the possibility of abduction, but Mackenzie's lawyer can provide more details so that the elite security forces and other investigating agencies can address the issue to ensure his safety," he said.

Lead investigator Stephen Ambani said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had not opened any investigation into the kidnapping allegations. 

"We have not received any official reports on the abduction claims, so we have not started any investigation into the matter," he said.

Mr Kimuyu and Mr Ambani were responding to Mackenzie's claims that they had been separated from his accomplices. They were summoned to appear in court to clarify the allegations.

Magistrate Juma agreed with the explanations given by Mr Ambani and Mr Kimuyu and found them reasonable.

"I consider the explanations given by the two officers to be reasonable and the court has found no violation of Mackenzie's rights. He is, after all, a prisoner. Nevertheless, he will be escorted to the police station to lodge a complaint about the abduction," the judge said.

Mackenzie also suffered a setback when his appeal to be transferred from Shimo La Tewa prison to Malindi was rejected.

The magistrate rejected the application on the grounds that her court had no jurisdiction to grant such a request.

"This court has not convicted Mackenzie and therefore has no jurisdiction to order his transfer to Malindi Prison for the offence," Ms Juma said.

However, Ms Juma made it clear to Mackenzie that he was free to seek the appropriate channels to apply for a transfer.

Mackenzie pleaded with the court to transfer him from Shimo Prison, where he has been held since last year, expressing concern that his numerous complaints to the court may have caused problems with the prison authorities.

Paul Mackenzie (left) and co-suspects outside the Shanzu Law Courts on September 18, 2023

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Through his lawyer, Mr Makasembo, the doomsday preacher expressed fears of remaining in prison because of his complaints about the suffering he is enduring there.

"He is uncomfortable in Shimo because he has raised concerns about the ill-treatment he is receiving, which could lead to conflict with the prison authorities. He wants to be transferred to Malindi prison because he was convicted by the Malindi court," Makasembo said.

His complaints include isolation from other inmates, denial of access to sunlight and an alleged plot to kidnap him.

But the prosecution, led by Ms Ogega Bosibori, objected to the transfer, arguing that Shimo prison was specially equipped to hold people accused of terrorism.

"Moreover, Shimo is the only facility that separates prisoners charged under terrorism laws from those accused of other offences," she explained.

Ms Ogega also mentioned that Mackenzie is currently facing three cases in the Mombasa court, making it impractical to transfer him to Malindi as it would complicate his transportation to Mombasa for court appearances.

Paul Mackenzie

Pastor Paul Mackenzie appears before Shanzu Law Courts on June 2, 2023. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

"It would be unreasonable for Mackenzie to be detained in Malindi and then transported to Mombasa courts whenever his presence is required," she argued.

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

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

Mackenzie, Ms Maweu, Mr Kwakalama, his wife and 28 others are charged with radicalisation, with the State alleging that the suspects promoted an extreme belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence, such as fasting to death, by promoting 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 for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to wit fasting to death by promoting religious change.

Mackenzie and Mwakalama were separately charged with the offence of facilitating the commission of a terrorist act, with the State alleging that the two facilitated the commission of a terrorist act with intent to endanger the lives of members and supporters of Good News International Ministries by transporting them between Shakahola Forest and Malindi town.

Mackenzie and his wife were also charged with the offence of possessing compact discs (CDs), DVDs, books and pamphlets for the purpose of instigating the commission of a terrorist act to endanger the lives of members and followers of his church.

The State alleged that the two suspects committed the offence in Furunzi area of Malindi on different dates between 2020 and 2023.

The court will give further instructions when the matter comes up for mention on 6 May.