Victims of Mackenzie cult were murdered, says State

Mackenzie Paul

Paul Mackenzie with some of the followers who police have sought to be detained for 90 days to investigate them over murder, aiding persons to kill themselves, aiding suicide, radicalisation and child cruelty among others at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa in this photo taken on May 2, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mackenzie and 17 others believed to be his followers are being investigated for murder, aiding persons to kill themselves, aiding suicide, radicalisation and child cruelty among others.

Some of the victims of the Shakahola massacre were either coerced, violently forced to starve to death, or suffocated to hasten their death due to the radical religious ideology shared by cult leader Paul Mackenzie, the State says.

In a fresh affidavit filed in court by Inspector Raphael Wanjohi, the State now claims vulnerable adherents of the Good Life International Church , especially children, women and the elderly, died painfully at the hands of other cult members.

The court was told the new revelation came through victim and eyewitness accounts that were corroborated by preliminary findings of post-mortems conducted on bodies exhumed from mass graves in Shakahola forest.

“Some of the [dead] children and women are reasonably believed to be relatives of the 17 respondents,” said Mr Wanjohi.

Authorities have recovered 103 bodies from mass graves in the forest so far, with the number expected to continue rising.

Police said they intend to collect DNA samples from the 17 respondents for matching with the bodies to identify victims.

The court heard that there is reason to believe that there may have been financial and material gain for the criminal group, hence the need to identify ,trace, freeze and confiscate any illicit proceeds of the crime.

The court was told victims are still undergoing counselling and are not in a position to record statements or participate in the collection of evidence against Mr Mackenzie and 17 followers.

Police say the 17 suspects are reasonably believed to have assumed leadership roles within an organised structure set up by Mr Mackenzie.

 The court also heard that the identities of the 17 are still unknown and is the subject of the ongoing investigations.

Mr Mackenzie is under investigations allegedly for counselling and aiding people to kill themselves, aiding suicide , murder, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering and for being accessories before or after the fact.

 Earlier, Malindi Principal Magistrate Ivy Wasike had closed the case against Mr Mackenzie, saying, her court lacked jurisdiction to hear terrorism charges that the prosecution wanted to add in the suit. Mr Mackenzie and his co-accused were rearrested outside the court and are expected to be moved to Shanzu in Mombasa where they will face fresh charges.

The Malindi court denied the prosecution’s request to hold them for 90 days pending completion of investigations.

Ms Wasike said her court had no power to give an order for anticipatory bail.

“The file will be closed as the court cannot in its capacity give an order for anticipatory bail.”

“If the suspects will be arrested once they leave this court, this court cannot anticipate or preempt a bail.”

“Any application for bail can be [made at] the court [where] they will be taken. In this regard, this miscellaneous file is closed and the suspects are at liberty unless they are otherwise rearrested”. 

Reporting by Brian Ocharo, Wachira Mwangi and Alex Kalama