HomeShakahola MassacreInspector General of Police and Interior Cabinet Secretary Visit Cult Massacre Site

Inspector General of Police and Interior Cabinet Secretary Visit Cult Massacre Site

  • EDITORIAL BRIEF: The Shakahola Forest Massacre is a clear violation of human rights and religious freedom. The government must ensure that justice is served and measures are put in place to prevent such incidents from happening again. Tighter regulations and self-regulation can play a significant role in preventing such incidents. The media has a role to play in reporting on such incidents and holding the government and religious institutions accountable.

The Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome was set to visit the Shakahola forest in Kilifi, Kenya, where more than 40 bodies were exhumed following cult activities by notorious Pastor Paul Mackenzie. This visit comes after police discovered an additional 26 bodies of suspected cult members in the east of the country, bringing the total number of corpses linked to the movement to 47. Of these, 36 were exhumed, four were found dead by rescue teams, while the remaining four died while receiving treatment.

The 800-acre parcel of land in the Shakahola forest, believed to be owned by the controversial pastor of the Good News International Church, has at least 58 graves identified. The Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki is also expected to visit the site on Tuesday, with the aim of speeding up the investigation into the crime scene. Kindiki directed the Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha to reinforce the multi-agency team ahead of his visit.

The unfolding Shakahola Forest Massacre is the clearest abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship, according to Kindiki. He emphasized that tighter regulations on religious institutions must be put in place moving forward to hinder such atrocities that affect innocent Kenyans. “While the State remains respectful of religious freedom, this horrendous blight on our conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment of the perpetrator(s) of the atrocity on so many innocent souls, but tighter regulation (including self-regulation) of every church, mosque, temple or synagogue going forward,” the Interior Boss stated.

Although his church was shut down in 2019, Mackenzie has continued to attract the masses through his preaching of the ‘end times and fasting to go to heaven.’ The police are holding Mackenzie for 14 days to conclude investigations over his ‘radical’ teachings where he asks his followers to fast for days without water or food until they die of starvation. He is yet to be officially charged.

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