In a horrifying turn of events, the Shakahola village in Kilifi County has become the site of a grim investigation, as the exhumation of 11 more bodies on Monday brings the total to 50 since the process began on Friday. The search continues on the property of cult leader Paul Mackenzie, who is currently in police custody. Authorities are investigating the starvation-related deaths of multiple individuals, along with suspicions that some victims may have been murdered before being buried on the property.
Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome provided an update on the situation after visiting the scene, noting that 29 survivors have been rescued and taken to the hospital for treatment. IG Koome and Director of Criminal Investigations Mohammed Amin arrived at the village Monday afternoon to oversee the ongoing exhumation efforts.
As of Monday at 1 p.m., the overall death toll resulting from Mackenzie’s cult activities had reached 58, as eight of the individuals rescued have tragically succumbed to their conditions while undergoing treatment.
This shocking revelation has raised questions surrounding possible negligence and oversight by local administrators and security forces. Kenyans are expressing outrage over the government’s handling of the case, with reports of inadequate manpower plaguing the rescue and exhumation teams.
On Sunday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki directed the Coast Regional Coordinator and regional security team to bolster the team in Malindi prior to his visit on Tuesday. Prof. Kindiki confirmed that additional security officers have been deployed, and the entire area has been designated as a crime scene.
In a statement, Prof. Kindiki called the Shakahola forest massacre a “clear abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship” and highlighted the necessity for tighter regulation and oversight of religious institutions. He emphasized that this “horrendous blight on our conscience” must lead not only to the severe punishment of those responsible for the atrocities, but also to increased vigilance for the protection of the innocent.