The Shakahola Forest massacre’s death toll reached 240 on Wednesday, following the recovery of two human skeletons from a forest area associated with Paul Mackenzie.
Due to the state of decomposition, authorities found it difficult to ascertain the gender of the bodies.
Coast Regional Commander Rhoda Onyancha confirmed that operations are still ongoing, and the forensic team is set to begin autopsies on the 123 bodies exhumed during the second phase of the operation.
On Saturday, amidst the visit of the Senate Ad hoc committee on the spread of religious groups, three bodies were uncovered in the Shakahola forest. This committee, led by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, surveyed the grave sites. Two bodies were decomposed, while one was identified as a female adult’s.
The sight of a body wrapped in a Maasai bedsheet left the Senate Committee aghast.
“Even as we depart today, more bodies have been discovered. We are coming to grips with our people’s demise. We are encountering skeletons,” voiced Mr. Mungatana.
The investigative team exploring the Shakahola mass murders also visited Bethlehem village, recognized as Mackenzie’s base.
“We also toured a mass grave that, we’re told, contained about 67 individuals who have since been exhumed, a place referred to as Bethlehem,” Mr. Mungatana added.
The committee was also able to survey Galilaya, the location of Mackenzie’s residence. It is in Galilaya that the cult leader allegedly implemented punishment and judgment for those defying his extremist doctrines.
During the visit, the committee urged the government to augment the search and rescue team with additional personnel.
Mr. Mungatana stated that the committee is open to input from Kenyans to aid the Senate in establishing methods for managing religious freedoms.
Migori Senator Eddy Okech commented that the current search and rescue staff were insufficient, suggesting an increase in their numbers. Nominated Senator Tabitha Mutinda urged the government to fortify Lango Baya Police Station, the closest administrative post serving Shakahola.
On Friday, the Senate committee met with the security team, religious leaders, and representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations as part of their investigatory mission regarding the Shakahola mass murders.
“We cannot permit individuals to perish due to one person misleading citizens under the guise of worship,” Mungatana stated.