GSU officer, wife and mother missing amid Shakahola cult probe

Isaac Ngala and his wife Emily Wanje

Isaac Ngala, 36, a General Service Unit officer who left his job in Nairobi and joined Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s church in 2019 and right, his wife Emily Wanje, 35. 

Photo credit: Family Album

A Nairobi-based General Service Unit (GSU) officer, his wife and his mother are among dozens of people reported missing, as the investigation into the macabre cult in Shakahola, Kilifi County, continues.

According to close family members, the GSU officer, Isaac Ngala, 36, his wife Emily Wanje, 35, and his mother joined the deadly cult between 2019 and 2020.

Their two children- Imani Ngala (two years) and Seth Ngala (five years) are among those missing.

Luckily, one child, Ephraim Gandi, was rescued early in the week, in the ongoing exercise that has also seen more than 90 bodies exhumed.

When Ms Emily Wanje, 25, completed her Diploma in Community Development from the Technical University of Kenya in 2014, she got married to her GSU lover.

The two stayed together for one month before Mr Ngala went back to his workstation in Nairobi, leaving Emily in Malindi, Kilifi County, with her in-law, but could frequently visit her.

One year into their marriage, Emily secured employment as an Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) teacher at a local school within Malindi.

This is where she has been serving as an ECDE teacher until she went missing sometime in 2020.

Family members say Mr Ngala was the first to join the deadly cult in 2019, before his wife Emily.

Lured after he left employment

Mr Ngala was lured to join controversial Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s Good News International Church after he left his employment when their second born was only six months old.

A year later (in 2020), Mr Ngala lured his wife Emily to resign from work and join him at the church so that they could serve God together.

“He was serving as a GSU police officer in Nairobi County, then suddenly he left his employment without even resigning and joined Pastor Paul Mackenzie’s Good News International Church. He later convinced his wife Wanje to join him in the church. In fact, he used to tell her, working was ungodly!” Emily’s sister, Winnie Wanje, said.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Winnie revealed that in 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the couple left their Malindi home for Lamu County, saying they had secured a two-acre parcel of land and that they needed to develop it ‘without revealing much’.

The family later learnt that it was donated to them by Pastor Paul Mackenzie. 

“The two are among many people who are missing. We were shocked when we established that the bodies of my sister’s two children had been exhumed. We reported the couple as missing and they are among those being traced. Also missing is my mother-in-law,” she told the Nation.

“Their mobile phones have been switched off,” she added.

Winnie revealed that the last time she saw her sister was in December 2022, when she visited their Shanzu home to check on their (Emily and Winnie) ailing mother, who had been admitted to a hospital in the area. 

A family member disclosed that they got suspicious about the church when schools resumed after they were closed down due to Covid-19, as Emily refused to send her eldest son back to school, saying their church was against it.

According to Winnie, on March 15, Emily’s father-in-law, who was also a member of the church, managed to escape from Shakahola and luckily found their other relatives and informed them about the happenings in the Good News International Church.

She said that together with other villagers, they organised a rescue mission in the forest, but the three were not found. They managed to rescue her eight-year-old nephew, who was in critical condition.

It is the minor who informed them his two siblings had died from starvation.

“After recovery, the boy told us that his brothers had died three days before his rescue and that they were even buried. He revealed to us that he had fasted for seven days without eating anything, and the parents escaped together with the rest. We did not want to exhume the bodies without following the due process. We reported the matter to the police and it is what led to the busting of the now Shakahola massacre,” Winnie said.