HomeNewsProtecting Citizens from Religious Abuse: Kindiki Explains Why Tighter Regulations is Key

Protecting Citizens from Religious Abuse: Kindiki Explains Why Tighter Regulations is Key

  • EDITOR’S BRIEF: The Shakahola Forest Massacre is a gruesome reminder of the dangers posed by unregulated religious groups. It is crucial that the government takes action to ensure that such atrocities never occur again, by introducing stricter regulations and ensuring that perpetrators of these crimes face the full force of the law.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has called for more stringent regulations on religious centers, following disturbing revelations about the Good News International Church cult in Malindi, Kilifi County. This comes as detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) continue to uncover more details about the cult, following the discovery of 39 bodies (and counting) in the Shakahola Forest Massacre.

In a statement on Sunday, Kindiki condemned the massacre, calling it a clear violation of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship. He noted that large-scale crimes under Kenyan law and international law have been committed, and that those responsible for the atrocity must face severe punishment. He also stressed the need for tighter regulation of all religious institutions going forward, including self-regulation.

To assist with the ongoing investigation, Kindiki ordered a reinforcement of police troops in the Shakahola area, ahead of his visit on Tuesday. The investigation was prompted after several followers of the cult-like religion were rescued by officers from the Malindi police station, and family members of missing victims gathered at the station in search of their loved ones.

The main suspect in the case is the church’s preacher, Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, who allegedly duped worshippers into fasting “so that they can see God,” resulting in the deaths of many of them.

Nthenge was previously arrested last month for causing the deaths of two children due to starvation. Although he was granted bail of Ksh.10,000 by Justice Olga Onalo of the Malindi High Court pending investigations, he has yet to face charges as the government pathologist and DCI officers have not yet exhumed all the bodies.

The Interior CS’s call for stricter regulation of religious centers is timely, given the recent rise in cult-like religious groups in Kenya. Many of these groups exploit vulnerable individuals, promising them spiritual healing or salvation, only to subject them to horrific treatment and abuse. Therefore, it is essential that the government takes steps to regulate these religious institutions and protect citizens from these heinous acts.

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