HomeShakahola MassacreDeath Toll Rises: 26 More Bodies Found in Kilifi Cult Exhumations Bringing...

Death Toll Rises: 26 More Bodies Found in Kilifi Cult Exhumations Bringing Death Toll at 73

EDITORIAL BRIEF: The unfolding Shakahola forest massacre is an abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship. The government has promised to punish the perpetrators severely and has called for tighter regulation of every church, mosque, temple, or synagogue going forward.

On April 21, the police raided a horror church belonging to Paul Mackenzie in Kilifi County, Kenya, and found 8 victims who had died. Since then, exhumation exercises have been conducted, and on Monday, April 24, 26 more bodies were found in Shakahola village in Kilifi County, bringing the total number of bodies exhumed to 65.

This means that the total deaths attributed to the cult this month now stand at 73. The police also rescued nine people who were on the verge of starvation, with five of them being in critical condition. They were immediately taken to the hospital for treatment. Seven of the bodies were found in a single grave, the highest number from one site since the exhumation exercise began last week.

The exhumation exercise was suspended on Monday due to bad weather, but it is expected to resume on Tuesday. The police also found a man who they believe is an ally and co-mastermind of Mackenzie’s on the vast property. Mackenzie is in police custody and is being investigated for influencing his followers to starve to death to meet their maker. The police also suspect that some of the victims were killed and then buried on the property.

Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome visited the scene and updated the tally, stating that 29 people had been rescued and taken to the hospital. However, there have been questions raised about possible laxity and negligence by administrators and the local security apparatus. Kenyans have expressed outrage at how the government has handled the case, with reports that the team deployed to carry out the exhumations and rescue operation complained about a lack of adequate manpower.

On Sunday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki directed the Coast regional coordinator, together with the regional security team, to reinforce the team in Malindi ahead of his visit on Tuesday. The entire land has been sealed off as a crime scene, and enough security officers have been deployed.

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