Fact check: Photos of emaciated men not from Shakahola

This photo was shared by many users on Twitter and YouTube channels used is as thumbnail with clickbait headlines to spread disinformation.

The photo, which shows emaciated men was used to depict the situation in Shakahola where rescue operations has been going on for the last one month when in reality the sensational photo was from Uganda.

This photo showing emaciated men has been shared on social media many times. On April 24th we noted it was shared by three different users on Twitter.

The first user @georgenjoroge_, a cyber security and computer forensic guru posted (archived here)

“Pastor Paul Mackenzie, the head of the Malindi cult, has effectively persuaded our people to forgo what is considered regular life, education, or the pursuit of pleasure for this?

Something is drastically wrong with our folks. How can so many people be duped into believing that this is the only way to meet their God?”

The second user wrote (Archived here):

“ Christian believers rescued in Kenya after their pastor instructed them to fast for 40days. Several are feared dead. The pastor who goes by the name pastor Paul Mackenzie based in Malindi, Kenya instructed his followers to fast consecutively for 40 days in order to meet “Jesus “’

Equally, this photo was also used as a thumbnail for a YouTube video, with over two-thousand subscribers, on May 4, 2023.

Latest from Shakahola.

The discovery of mass graves in April 2023 in Shakahola Forest in Kilifi county, took the country by surprise.

As yet, more than 140, including many children, have been confirmed dead. While exhumations are ongoing, there is potential for the numbers to rise in what has been dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre”.

Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie is accused of of ordering his followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus” In his teachings.

Autopsies on the first 112 bodies showed that most of the victims died of starvation. While some of the victims were strangled, beaten or suffocated as recently revealed by the Chief Government Pathologist, Johansen Oduor.

Emerging post moterm reports have established missing organs in some of the bodies of victims who have been exhumed, said inspector Martin Munene in an affidavit filed to a Nairobi court.

On May 2 prosecutors announced that Paul Mackenzie will be summoned for “terrorism” .

Fact check

After conducting a Google reverse image search, we established the picture originated from Uganda.

The incident was reported (Archived here) by Nile Post, a Ugandan news channel, on April 6th 2023.

The headline for the report read. “Elders angry after Karamojong youth emerge from prison looking starved.”

The incident was also reported by Uganda’s Daily Monitor.

We further established that emaciated men were among over 400 youth who were detained over alleged cuttle rustling in Karamoja region in Northeastern Uganda.

After looking into the photo, Nation Investigative unit found this photo showing emaciated men was used in a false context and therefore MISLEADING.

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