Mackenzie demands soap, wife as skin rash ravages inmates

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

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Through their advocate Lawrence Obonyo, the suspects disclosed that they are suffering from skin rashes because of shortage of bathing soap.

Controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie and his 94 co-suspects in the Shakahola massacre case have requested to be supplied with soap and other toiletries, claiming that they are suffering from skin diseases due to poor hygiene in prison.

Through their advocate Lawrence Obonyo, the suspects disclosed that they are suffering from skin rashes because of shortage of bathing soap.

“It appears there is a rash outbreak among the detainees. They are asking for soap to manage the situation. After all, they are under the care of the state, so the government should offer them proper hospitality,” Mr Obonyo stated. 

The lawyer informed Mombasa Chief Magistrate Alex Ithuku that the skin disease is predominantly affecting men. 

At the same time, Mackenzie requested the court's permission to meet his wife, Rhoda Mumbua Maweu, who is also facing similar manslaughter charges and is detained at Shimo La Tewa prison. 

Mr Obonyo mentioned that the couple needs to address matters concerning their children and therefore, they should be granted sufficient time to meet. 

“They are a couple, with children. Mackenzie has instructed me to request the court to issue an order for the prison authorities to allow him to meet his wife. They want to discuss issues about their children,” said the lawyer. 

The lawyer did not, however, disclose more about the nature of the conversation Mackenzie wishes to have with his wife, but mentioned that the couple has not had enough time to talk about family matters. 

Furthermore, Mackenzie is seeking to be transferred from his current cell to another due to mental distress. 

“The suspect is requesting to be transferred from the current detention unit due to mental depression, so he requires a different environment," Mr Obonyo stated. 

The magistrate concurred with the lawyer's suggestion that the couple should be permitted to meet for the well-being of their children and instructed the prison authorities to facilitate this. 

Mr Ithuku also urged the prison authorities to treat Mackenzie humanely. 

His co-accused

Mackenzie and his co-accused are facing 238 manslaughter charges over the death of more than 429 members of the Good News International Church in the Shakahola forest. 

The suspects have been charged that in pursuance of a suicide pact for the object of their death and others not before the court, they jointly killed 238 people.

They are alleged to have committed the offences on unknown dates between January 2021 and September 2023 in the Shakahola area in Malindi Sub-County within Kilifi County.

The suspects have all pleaded not guilty to all the 38 counts of manslaughter. 

They will, however, remain in custody until their manslaughter charges are heard and concluded.

This is after the Mombasa Court rejected their attempt to enjoy temporary freedom as they waited for their trial to commence.

The court early this month shot down the suspects’ application to be freed on bond citing the gravity of the offences that they are facing.

They were denied bond since the court observed that the suspects do not have permanent residence since they were all arrested at Shakahola forest, therefore, it will be difficult for them to be traced if they don't appear in court.

This, therefore, made them a flight risk. 

The court also agreed with the Officer of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) statement that the charges against the accused are serious and that there would be tampering with witnesses because most of them (witnesses) are minors. 

On Thursday (today), the prosecution requested additional time to compile and separate its evidence before the hearing could commence. 

The court has noted that it intends to begin taking evidence of the witnesses in the case in May. 

The case will be mentioned on May 13.