Mackenzie, followers on hunger strike over Kindiki’s "rot in jail" remarks

Mackenzie Paul

Shakahola cult leader Paul Mackenzie (in pink) is pictured with some of his followers at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa County on May 2, 2023. 

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenzie and his followers have staged a hunger strike in police custody over Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s remarks that they will rot in jail.

The more than 30 suspects, who are under investigation over the Shakahola massacre, have lamented that they will not get justice because the CS has condemned them even before formal charges are brought against them.

Through their advocate Wycliffe Makasembo, the suspects lamented that remarks by Prof Kindiki have threatened their right to a fair hearing and their constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“As I address this court, some of the respondents have resorted to hunger strikes. The words that were uttered by Prof Kindiki are dangerous, unlawful and totally unwarranted,” Mr Makasembo told Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda.

They have also threatened to boycott future proceedings if Prof Kindiki does not withdraw his remarks, which they claim could interfere with the fair administration of justice.

According to the advocate, the defence team believes that the current judicial process is a waste of time because of Prof Kindiki's remarks.

“We need some assurance from Chief Justice Martha Koome, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the  Chairman Law Society of Kenya (LSK) that our clients will get justice and a fair hearing since Prof Kindiki has already tried and condemned the respondents,” said Mr Makasembo.

Prof Kindiki stated last week at a press conference in Shakahola and a church function that even if the courts acquit Mackenzie and his followers, he will take them back to prison where they will rot for the rest of their lives.

“We take offence for these kinds of statements. some of them are still in shock. We want to know if the CS is running an independent judiciary. The impression we get is that the CS is a law unto himself. Our clients are yet to be charged. We expect the CS and any other legal mind to assume them to be innocent until proven guilty,” the advocate lamented.

He added “If he (Prof Kindiki)  feels that our courts are incompetent, he can invite international bodies like the UN to come and try Mackenzie,”

The advocate also complained that the police have demolished the respondents' houses and taken away their livestock.

However, State Counsel Ogega Bosibori requested that the court disregard Mr Makasembo's comments, claiming that the advocate had brought the matter in the wrong forum.

“If the counsel feels aggrieved and that the rights of his clients have been violated, he knows the right forum to take the complaints instead of making such allegations in this court,” she said

The prosecutor also stated that the respondents' allegations of torture should be supported by an affidavit rather than broad statements.

The victim’s advocate Yussuf Abubakar requested that the allegations be dismissed, claiming that comments made outside court are irrelevant to the cases currently before the court.

“This is a court of law, if you entertain anything said in the market and or political forum then you will not be doing your work. It is wrong for Mr Makasembo to present what was said by Prof Kindiki in the manner that he has done. That CS is not a party to this matter,” he said

Mr Abubakar said that the executive arm of the government has no role in the matter and that the CS has no authority to issue any order in relation to the case.

“Mr Makasembo should go and find Prof Kindiki where he is and ask him to withdraw those statements,” said the advocate

The magistrate however indicated that his court cannot speak for Prof Kindiki and that his sentiments will not affect how his court will handle the matter.

The judicial officer also stated that the court will decide the case based on facts and evidence presented before it.

“Prof Kindiki is a high-ranking government official, and to the ordinary citizen, his utterances carry a lot of weight. However, as the judicial officer handling this matter, I hereby assure the respondents that this court will administer justice according to the Constitution,” said the magistrate

Makenzie and his followers are under investigation for the offences of, aiding suicide, murder, abduction, radicalization, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and for being accessories before or after the fact.

They have been given seven days to respond to the state’s application for a further 60 days of detention.

The case will be heard on June 14.