'My mother and two sisters went missing after following Paul Mackenzie cult'

Stanley Ombuna whose mother and two little sisters went missing in 2020. They are believed to have joined Good News International Church led by controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie. 

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The last time he communicated with his mother was in the year 2020. Then the line went dead, leaving the then 19-year-old Stanley Ombuna in a state of confusion.

Accompanying his mother Susan Awinja were his two little sisters, aged 12 and four at that time. To date, their whereabouts remain a mystery.

The fidgety Ombuna, now 22 years old, has decided to recount years of uncertainty, swimming against the tide, enduring upheavals, and coping with the fear of the unknown. 

“I don’t know where they went. The last time my mother dialed me was three years ago. She later resorted to texting before the line went dead,” he recalls the conversation.

But what is still vivid in his mind is that his mother had become an ardent follower of Paul Mackenzie of the Good News International Church.

“She remained glued to a local television channel whenever he was preaching. Soon after, she started behaving strangely. She discouraged me from continuing with my education,” he remembers.

However, the fairly bright son decided to defy his mother, and from then onwards, they could not see eye to eye. “She was cold towards me. We could not agree anymore... our relationship became ice cold,” he says. 

Determined to stay with the ministry, his mother left for Ziwa La Kurunzi in Malindi, leaving behind her first and second-born sons at their Nairobi home.

Resilient in the face of adversity, the two relocated to Naivasha to join their aging grandmother. "I was still in Form Three and hoped my grandmother would support my education. She could not,” he added.

Luckily, he found a Good Samaritan who helped him rejoin school: “I was forced to repeat Form Three before I cleared in April 2021, attaining a grade of C plus,” he says.

Despite having secured a scholarship, the young man remembers an incident that, in his own words, led to his “poor performance" as he was aiming for a plain A. 

“I boarded a vehicle from my area of residence, but the conductor said that I had developed a penchant for not paying my fare. He decided to punish me, dropping me almost five kilometers from my institution of learning,” he says.

The move by the uncompromising conductor proved costly as the candidate could not make it in time for the Business paper. “I was 20 minutes late. I was unsettled when I wrote my paper,” he adds.

Life for the young man, who despite attaining a university grade, is on a downward spiral, earning stipends at construction sites as a manual worker. Hopes of excelling quashed... navigating through life's obstacles... bereft of options.

He is hopeful of finding a well-wisher to finance his education or joining the army to harness his football skills. “I am also open to joining the military to continue with education and hone my football skills,” he says.

But the big impediment is how to achieve his dreams with only his aging grandmother by his side. “I just hope someone will help me realize my dream... I remain positive,” he adds. 

The issue of his missing mother and siblings is also weighing him down. Before the Shakahola tragedy, he was almost giving up on ever finding them.

“I had opted to remain silent until now. Maybe they are victims of a cultist belief. I have no clue. It pains me to the core hence the stillness. The thought of what could have happened makes me nervous,” he says, fighting back tears.

He has now gathered the courage, waiting for a date with destiny. “Now I'm ready for a DNA test. I just want to know their fate, close the chapter, and move.