Shakahola cult: All Kilifi police commanders moved to allow thorough probe

kithure kindiki at shakahola

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki at Shakahola village in Kilifi County, where detectives are exhuming bodies in an investigation into cult leader Paul Mackenzie, on April 28, 2023.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

All the police commanders in Kilifi County have been redeployed to allow a thorough probe into a cult led by Paul Mackenzie, even as detectives continue exhuming the bodies of people believed to have starved to death.

By Thursday, the body count of people Mr Mackenzie is said to have convinced to die by starvation, in order to meet God, stood at 109.

The bodies are being dug out of mass graves at Shakahola village in Kilifi, on a vast piece of land – measuring 800 acres –  thought to belong to the cult leader. This was where the cult members had settled.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced the redeployment of the commanders on Friday, as he toured the area for the second time this week.

CS Kindiki said the commanders were from all levels – division, sub-county and county – and all services – the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the National Police Service (NPS) and the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

"We are not implicating anyone but if you got a report and failed to act, then investigations will help unravel that. We have also up-scaled the command leadership on site from tonight," he said in Shakahola, where a command centre has been established.

"We assure the public that investigations will be above board and open to the public. And from Monday, toxicology examinations and postmortems will begin. We ask for patience.”

CS Kindiki also said exhumations were suspended on Friday due to heavy rains and that the government had up-scaled rescue and recovery efforts by way of air surveiilance.

The exhumations will resume once the weather improves.

The CS further told a press briefing that preliminary investigations show the majority of the victims of the Shakahola cult's activities were children, followed by women.

"The men were fewer," he said.

The minister further said that new regulations on church activities will be announced from next week.

Regarding the redeployment, Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung'aro said some police officers who have overstayed in Kilifi and could have been complicit in the cult's activities should also be transferred.