CS Kindiki declares Paul Mackenzie’s ‘church’ an organised criminal group

The government has declared the ‘church’ linked to controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie as an organised criminal group.

In a gazette notice issued on Wednesday, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration Kithure Kindiki designated Good News International Ministries – based in Malindi, Kilifi county – as an organised criminal group under the Prevention of Organized Crimes Act number 6 of 2010.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 22(1) of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration declares Good News International Ministries to be an organised criminal group for the purposes of the Act,” read the notice.

Organised crime is a category of the transnational, national or local group of centralized enterprises run to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit.

Good News International Ministries joins 28 other scheduled gangs in the country including Al Shabaab, Mungiki, Sokoni Youth, Shymbo 12, criminal groups of Boda boda transport operators, Chinkororo, Gaza, Young Turks, Wakali Kwanza, Wakali Wao, Wakali Kabisa and Sungusungu, among others.

Since the beginning of this year, Mackenzie has been charged in Malindi, Shanzu and Mombasa law courts as well as the Children’s Court in Tononoka for more than 400 different counts among them murder, terrorism, and child negligence among others.

On January 16, Mackenzie was faced with charges of murder and terrorism following the deaths of more than 400 people found in mass graves in Shakahola, Kilifi County.

The suspected cult leader was arrested in April 2023 after the discovery of bodies, with some of the victims said to have starved themselves to death. He however denied the charges.

As of the date of his being charged, the bodies of 429 people, including children had been dug from the mass graves in Shakahola, a forest found in Malindi, Kilifi County.

The bodies showed signs of starvation. However, the court was informed that the children might have been strangled.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions informed the court that Mackenzie is alleged to have encouraged his church members to move to the forest and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ.

On January 25, Mackenzie and 38 other accused persons, denied charges of child cruelty and infringement of the children’s rights at the Tononoka Law Courts.

Mackenzie and the co-accused persons, before Principal Magistrate Nelly Chepchirchir denied 16 counts among them child torture.

The charge sheet further accused Mackenzie and the co-accused persons of slapping and beating 8-year-old and 14-year-old children with canes on their legs, thereby causing them bodily harm.

“This is subjecting children to torture and it is contrary to the law under the Children Act,” read the magistrate.

The accused persons were also charged with infringing the children’s rights to education contrary to section 30(1) (2) as read with section 30 (3) of the Basic Education Act 2013.

“Paul Mackenzie alias mtumishi alias papaa, on unknown dates in the year 2019 within Kilifi County, willfully and intentionally withdrew a child aged 13 years from Inayi Primary School and failed to ensure that the child attended school regularly as a pupil,” read part of the charge sheet.

The case will be mentioned on February 15 where their bond application will also be heard.

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