What you need to know:
- According to the President, the government is to blame for how far cult leader Paul Mackenzie was allowed to go on with his activities.
- He said the commissions of inquiry formed will get to the bottom of the matter and that those found responsible will be apprehended.
President William Ruto has asked for forgiveness for the Shakahola mass murders, acknowledging laxity and complacency by some government agencies over the same.
This comes after the number of exhumed bodies hit the 200 mark.
"I am taking responsibility that, as President, these (Shakahola murders) should not have happened. The promise I am giving to Kenyans is that we will get to the bottom of this matter," President Ruto said in a televised interview with Kenyan media houses on Sunday.
He suggested some government agencies could have slept on the job, blaming the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), National Police Service, area chiefs and their assistants, and Nyumba Kumi elders for failing to discover the cult’s activities on time.
"Some people who are responsible for this failure on the part of the government will have to give an account. This kind of thing should have never happened when we had all the relative agencies. But it has happened, and we have taken full responsibility," President Ruto said.
According to him, the government is to blame for how far cult leader Paul Mackenzie was allowed to go on with his activities.
"This man (Mackenzie) and his accomplices were arrested and taken to court more than once [and then] released, which is when he saw a need to go on with his criminal activities in the name of religion. This person is a terrorist," Dr Ruto said, assuring Kenyans of his commitment to dealing with the matter.
He said the commissions of inquiry formed will get to the bottom of the matter and that those found responsible will be apprehended.
"The commission formed is meant to help unravel how all this thing started, why it happened the way it did, and who the Mackenzie accomplices are," the President said.
The President also promised to visit Malindi once the multi-agency team that is on the ground completes its forensic analysis, as he defended himself by explaining why he has not yet been at the site.
"The place has been declared a scene of crime, and a security operation is ongoing," he said.
Dr Ruto further said Opposition Chief Raila Odinga's visit to Shakahola was political.
"To go there as a political figure, what does it help? Is he a security expert? doctor? Does he go to exhume bodies? What did he go to do when the place has been declared no longer a crime scene? I will go to Malindi, “ he said.
On journalists being barred from accessing the Shakahola Forest for coverage of the exhumation exercise, the President said: "If you went to Shakahola, would you go and film the graves and bodies that are disintegrated and take them to Kenyans? The scene that is there is not a scene to report. What would be there to hide about graves and dead people? When the time comes for me to speak about Shakahola, I will."
He added, "It is not right to tell me that I come and broadcast intelligence. That is not possible."
The President also urged those against church regulations to rethink their decision.
"I know there are people who are jittery. They are saying we should not regulate the church, and that is correct. Let's have an institution that self-regulates," he said. "We want to establish, with religious leaders, how they can agree on a mechanism that makes sure criminals and crooks do not take advantage of religion and faith to cause harm."