Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki is scheduled to return to Kilifi County on Monday morning to oversee the commencement of post-mortem examinations on the bodies exhumed from Shakahola forest.
The bodies, which have been counted to be 110 and still counting, are thought to belong to victims of a cult led by pastor Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the founder of the Good News International Church. The pastor allegedly convinced his devotees to starve themselves to death in order to “find God”.
The post-mortem examinations will be spearheaded by a team of experts led by Government Chief Pathologist Dr. Johansen Oduor at the Malindi Sub-county mortuary. Chakama Ranch, where Shakahola Forest is located, has been cordoned off following the exhumation operation, and a 30-day dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed.
Fourteen members of the cult have also been arrested by the police.
Mackenzie, who was once a taxi driver and later became a pastor, was charged in March after two children died of starvation while under their parents’ care, and he’s still in police custody. This gruesome incident has sparked reactions from religious leaders, political leaders, and members of the public.
President William Ruto has announced that he will appoint a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Shakahola massacre thoroughly. The President has stated that the commission will leave no stone unturned and hold everyone found culpable accountable.
Religious leaders have called for an audit of the doctrines being taught in various churches across the nation to eliminate offenders like Mackenzie. This incident is unsetting, and the actions of this pastor suggest a need for a re-evaluation of how religious teachings and practices are carried out in the country.
The government and the public must work together to ensure that everyone is safe and that such incidents never happen again.