58 Members of Pastor Mackenzie Cult Church Confirmed Dead in Kilifi’s Shakahola Forest as Exhumations Continue

58 Members of Pastor Mackenzie Cult Church Confirmed Dead in Kilifi's Shakahola Forest as Exhumations Continue

In a shocking incident, at least 58 people, believed to be members of Pastor Mackenzie cult Church, have been confirmed dead in Kilifi’s Shakahola Forest in Kenya, while exhumations continue. The announcement was made by the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome when he visited the dense forest in Shakahola on Monday. The number comprises of exhumed bodies and those who succumbed on their way to the hospital.

Since last week when the exercise began in the 800-acre forest believed to be owned by controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie, 29 people have been rescued so far. A team of experts drawn from the National Police Service, including Homicide detectives, other police officers, and government pathologists, are at the site of the crime, conducting investigations and taking part in the exhumation of the bodies. Another team is taking part in the rescue efforts of those who are still within the expansive land and could be alive.

Koome condemned the act and promised to ensure in-depth investigations into the deaths of the victims. He added, “As NPS, we strongly condemn any form of religious organization that promotes extremist beliefs and operates outside the confines of the law, putting the safety and well-being of Kenyans at risk and violating basic human rights, in this case, the right to life.”

The cult leader, Mackenzie Nthenge, turned himself in to the police and was charged last month after two children starved to death in the custody of their parents. He has since been released on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings. The grim case has gripped national attention, and the government has flagged the need for tighter control of religious denominations in a country where rogue pastors and fringe movements have been involved in crime.

President William Ruto has weighed in on the matter and likened controversial pastor Mackenzie to a terrorist who uses religion to advance what he described as “weird and unacceptable ideologies,” after radicalizing thousands, some of whom starved to death. Speaking on Monday when he presided over the pass-out parade of the Kenya Prisons Service cadets, Ruto called on Kenyans and different agencies in the country to be on the lookout for those who want to abuse the religious sector and those masquerading as religious persons.

The Kenya Red Cross reported that 112 people had been reported missing to its support staff at Malindi. A full-scale investigation has been launched into the Good News International Church and its leader since police stormed the forest at Shakahola and discovered the first bodies last week. The IG thanked the members of the public, human rights bodies, and the media for the role they have played since the revelation was made public. He stated that no stone will be left unturned in the quest to bring those responsible to book.

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