Ruto speaks on Shakahola cult: 'Paul Mackenzie belongs in jail'

Ruto: What is unfolding in Shakahola is akin to terrorism

President William Ruto said Monday that Shakahola cult leader Paul Mackenzie belongs in prison as "what is being witnessed in Shakahola is akin to terrorism".

The President spoke shortly after the  police revised the body count from mass graves in the village in Kilifi County upwards to 50. 

"Mr Mackenzie, who acts as a pastor, is in fact a terrible criminal. Terrorists use religion to advance their heinous acts. People like Mackenzie are using religion to do exactly the same thing," the Head of State said, adding that the cult leader and others like him should be in jail. 

His comments came more than a week after the horror of the cult captured the attention of the nation, when four bodies were found and 10 people rescued from Mackenzie's compound on April 14. 

This week, police have been camped at his 800-acre land exhuming bodies of likely cult victims. His followers were convinced to starve themselves to death in order to meet their maker. 

By Monday, several leaders had either visited the scene or issued statement on the 'Shakahola' cult, some raising questions on Kenya's state of security, intelligence gathering and community policing.

One such leader was Senate Speaker Amazon Kingi, who called for the "harshest punishment possible must be meted to those responsible for the deaths of these innocent souls".

In a statement, Speaker Kingi asked several questions, such as how the crimes went on undetected for ages.

He said, "How did such a heinous crime, organised and executed over a considerable period of time, escape the radar of our intelligence system? How did evil of such an astounding magnitude take place without being detected? How did this ‘pastor’ gather so many people, indoctrinated, brainwashed and starved them to death in the name of fasting and then buried them in a forest without being detected?"

He added: "These are questions that must be answered for us to fully comprehend what happened and be able to prevent a repeat of such."

Yesterday, House Speaker Moses Wetang'ula faulted security authorities in Malindi for the mass deaths.  

"We want officers in charge of security in that area to tell the truth about what they know because people cannot die like that when there are officers paid to offer security," he said.