Shakahola cult: Death toll at 240 after two human skeletons recovered from forest

Shakahola death

Exhumation exercise at Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

Death toll in Shakahola Forest massacre hits 240 after two human skeletons were recovered from the forest land linked to Paul Mackenzie on Monday.

The bodies had decomposed, making it hard for the officers to identify their gender.

Coast Regional boss Rhoda Onyancha said operation is ongoing and the forensic team is expected to commence autopsy of the 123 bodies exhumed in Phase 2.

On Saturday, three bodies were found inside the Shakahola forest amidst the visit of the Senate Ad hoc committee on proliferation of religious organizations led by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, who toured the gravesites.

Two of the bodies had decomposed and one was identified as that of a female adult.

The Senate Committtee was in shock when they saw one of the bodies wrapped up in a Maasai bedsheet.

"We want to say that even as we are living today, some more bodies were found. We have come face-to-face with the death of our people. We have come face-to-face with skeletons," said Mr Mungatana.

The team that is tasked with looking into the Shakahola mass murders also toured Bethlehem village, an area noted to be Mackenzie's headquarters.

"We have also visited a mass grave that, as we are informed, was carrying about 67 people who have been exhumed, and that particular place was called Bethlehem," added Mr Mungatana.

Other areas they managed to tour included Galilaya, where Mackenzie's house is located.

It is here in Galilaya that the cult leader is claimed to have instituted punishment and judgment for those who went against his radical teachings.

During the visit, the committee recommended that the government deploys additional personnel to the search and rescue team.

Mr Mungatana said that the committee will welcome views from Kenyans so that the Senate can come up with ways of regulating freedom of worship.

Migori Senator Eddy Okech said that the rescue and search personnel were inadequate and that there was need to increase their numbers.

Nominated Senator Tabitha Mutinda asked the government to equip the Lango Baya Police Station, the nearest administrative post that serves Shakahola.

On Friday, the Senate committee met the security team, religious leaders, and representatives from Non-Governmental Organisations on their fact-finding mission in relation to the Shakahola mass murders.

"We cannot allow people to die because of one person who confuses the citizens in the name of worship," said Mungatana.