Shakahola massacre death toll rises to 350 as new graves unearthed

The death toll from suspected cultism in Shakahola, Kilifi County, has hit 350 after 12 more bodies were exhumed on Monday from the expansive Shakahola Forest.

Speaking at the start of the phase four exhumation exercise, Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said the number of reported missing persons stands at 613.

The phase four exhumation inside Shakahola Forest began at the home of one of the suspects in police custody, Titus Musyoka, with detectives and pathologists digging where they had spotted graves in Musyoka’s compound.

While speaking at Igoji, Imenti South during the installation of the new Deputy County Commissioner in Igoji on Monday, July 10, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Administration, Abraham Kithure Kindiki confirmed that in Kilifi County, 339 lives had so far been lost in the Shakahola tragedy and that 40 mass graves had been discovered where more bodies could be found.

The shocking killings emerged in the early weeks of April after a man contacted the police after his wife and daughter left Nairobi to join the Good News International Ministries owned by Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and did not return.

This led to investigations by the police, where they discovered shallow graves of people who had been allegedly brainwashed to starve to death to meet Jesus.

In the first phase of the search for the property, they discovered children in shallow graves and additional survivors who were starving to death, which led to the second phase, where they discovered 129 more decaying bodies.

The bodies exhumed in the third phase, which began on June 6, made the total Shakahola killings reach a total of 339.

Mackenzie and other suspects in the Shakahola mass killing probe were arrested and arraigned in court on June 12.

On July 3, the Shanzu Magistrate Court released Makenzie’s wife, Rhoda Maweu, on a personal bond of KES 300,000. In his ruling, Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda said the state had failed to prove why Maweu should continue being held with the other accused persons.

In regards to Mackenzie and the co-accused, the court ruled that they should remain in custody for another 30 days.

We will do everything positive to make sure another Shakahola tragedy does not occur in our country. To the religious leaders opposing the government’s effort to crack down on rogue preachers, we will not relent,’’ Kithure Kindiki said.

Kindiki added that every religious leader must do their work following the Constitution and the laws of Kenya.

“There is no difference between rogue preachers misleading their congregation and terrorists,” he concluded on the matter.


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