Death toll from Kenya starvation cult rises to 360

Wed, 12 Jul 2023 7:32 GMT
Police exhume 10 more bodies, noting that 253 DNA samples have been collected so far.
Death toll from Kenya starvation cult rises to 360

Authorities in Kenya announced Tuesday that 10 more bodies have been exhumed from graves in Shakahola Forest, where hundreds of victims of a suspected starvation cult are believed to have been buried, bringing the death toll to 360.

Speaking at a news conference, Kenyan Coast Regional Police Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha expressed her deep sorrow over the increasing death toll. She emphasized the commitment of the authorities to continue the exhumation process until every victim is accounted for, offering some solace to the grieving families. 

Police also noted that 253 DNA samples have been collected so far from those who had reported missing relatives.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki, addressing the Senate Ad hoc Committee investigating the Shakahola deaths, issued a stern warning, vowing to hold accountable those responsible for negligence in their duties.

Kindiki specifically cited some officers from the National Police Service and certain judiciary officials as parties that may face legal consequences for their alleged failure to act effectively in preventing the tragic events involving the Shakahola cult. 

He said they failed to act on a report on the activities of the cult’s leader, Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie. 

If they had acted on the report, “maybe Shakahola deaths could have been prevented or mitigated," he added.

Police discovered 40 more mass graves on Monday in their investigation. Hundreds of corpses have been found in the Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County since mid-April during investigations into the cult run by Mackenzie, who leads the Good News International Church in Kenya.

He is accused of ordering his followers to starve themselves to death so they could go to heaven before the end of the world.

The investigations have revealed that some of the victims had their organs missing, which has led to suspicions of trafficking in human organs.


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