In a chilling development, Shanzu court in Mombasa County heard that Shakahola cult leader, Paul Mackenzie, and 17 presumed followers allegedly suffocated their victims, predominantly children, in an attempt to expedite their deaths. Authorities are now requesting a 90-day detention period for Mackenzie and his supposed accomplices from the Good Life International Church to allow further investigation.
Inspector Raphael Wanjohi submitted an affidavit on Tuesday revealing that the allegations of suffocation and strangulation emerged from multiple victim and witness accounts, including those of individuals recently rescued from the Shakahola site. The state intends to corroborate these testimonies with evidence gleaned from preliminary post-mortem examinations on bodies exhumed from mass graves.
The individuals under investigation face charges of murder, aiding in suicide, radicalization, and child cruelty, among others. Wanjohi disclosed that some of the deceased women and children are believed to be relatives of the 17 respondents.
Police plan to collect DNA samples from the respondents for comparison with the exhumed bodies to aid in resolving the alleged crimes. Furthermore, the court learned that the accused may not be welcomed back into society as they are suspected of indoctrinating their family members, friends, and relatives into the cult.
“The crimes under investigation constitute compelling grounds to deny bail at this juncture and support continued detention of the respondents,” police argued. Additionally, authorities suspect a financial aspect to the cult’s operations, necessitating identification, tracing, freezing, and confiscation of any illegal proceeds from the crimes.
Wanjohi cautioned that if released on bond, “Mackenzie and others are likely to waste or dispose of those properties or conceal records and other information relating to those properties.”
Earlier in the day, a Malindi court closed its case against Mackenzie, briefly releasing him before he was re-arrested and brought to Mombasa. The case was closed after Malindi Principal Magistrate Ivy Wasike determined her court lacked jurisdiction to hear the terrorism charges that the prosecution sought to add to the existing suit against Mackenzie.