Survivor of Mackenzie cult appeals for help as families demand faster DNA tests

The devastating effects of the Shakahola fasting cult linked to former pastor Paul Mackenzie has left many families of loved ones that disappeared without a trace confused and destitute.

At Majengo in Shakahola village in Malindi sub-county, Kilifi county, 28-year-old Salama Masha is crying for help to fend for herself and five children after their father remained in the 840-acre Mackenzie farm.

Salama is a lucky survivor having escaped the forest during the early days of the security operations with her five kids aged between one year and eight years.

She believes that her husband who took them there in 2020 died of starvation saying that he refused to leave with them.

The woman said that she got married to her husband in Malindi and all was well until when the fasting ritual began in March 2023.

“I was among those who fasted but I retreated when we were told that children should also fast yet at the time I had a one-year-old child. My second last daughter who is two and a half years old fasted for a day and I could not stand it, she cried for water and in pain forcing me to abandon the ritual,” she said.

By the time she left, she was very weak and the children appeared frail but they had to leave for their safety and luckily for them, her rural home was nearby.

She is now appealing for help from the government and philanthropists so that she can educate her children.

“I am asking for help so that I can educate my children and also run a business here,” she plead.

Salama is not alone and in Malindi town, 43-year-old Robert Katana Mwakwaya from Muyeye village is waiting for DNA results that will link him to his wife and three children who escaped and joined the Mackenzie cult.

According to Mr. Mwakwaya, his 42-year-old wife ran away with their 19-year-old twin sons and a 16-year-old daughter that he suspects might have joined Mackenzie.

“The DNA process is taking too long and this is really affecting not only me but many other families who are camping in Malindi town,” he said, adding that the government should make the process faster.

Search and rescue operations and autopsies continue in Shakahola.

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