Search teams investigating Christian doomsday cult in Kenya have so far excavated 201 dead bodies from Shakahola forest close to the coastal town of Malindi in the country. The majority of the deceased were reportedly adherents of the preacher Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the founder of the Good News International Church, according to the authorities.
The believers were told that they would reach heaven faster if they starved to death. Official autopsies carried out on some of the bodies in the enormous Shakahola farm located inside the forest found evidence of malnutrition, suffocation, and beatings. The findings were confirmed by chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor. However, most of the victims appeared to have died of starvation.
In a startling admission, Titus Katana, a peanut vendor who joined the Good News Church in 2015 and advanced to the position of deputy pastor, stated that children died first and were told to fast in the sun so they would pass away faster.
“The instructions featured a methodical plan for mass suicide through starvation. The first to perish were to be children, who were to fast in the sun so that they would die faster. In March and April, it would be the turn of women, followed by men,” the pastor revealed.
He further added, “They were shut in huts for five days without food or water. Then they wrapped them in blankets and buried them, even the ones still breathing.”
The former deputy pastor disclosed that by this time, he had severed his relationship with Pastor Paul Makenzie Nthenge and was not there when the suicide programme commenced but was informed of it by those who were still there. He alarmed the police that kids are dying in the forest.
Titus Katana also mentioned that the pastor preached against education and pronounced it evil after claiming to have had a ‘revelation from God.’ He is now helping with the investigation.
More than 610 people are still reported to be missing from villages around the forest, shared Rhoda Onyancha, the Coast Regional Commissioner. She proclaimed that 26 people, including the pastor and a gang of enforcers, had been arrested in connection with the killings. The gang was tasked with making sure that no one broke their fast or survived to leave the forest.
Ezekiel Odero, a renowned and wealthy televangelist, was granted bail at a court proceeding last week. He is being looked into on several counts, including murder, assisting suicide, kidnapping, radicalisation, crimes against humanity, child abuse, fraud, and money laundering. He is also thought to be connected to the pastor and the dead bodies in the forest.
In accordance with the court documents submitted on Monday, a few of the bodies even had their organs removed, raising suspicions that the perpetrators were involved in the forcible harvesting of body parts. With regard to these allegations of organ harvesting, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki advised against drawing hasty conclusions and responded, “It is a theory we are investigating.”
Pastor Paul Makenzie Nthenge, who is presently being held by the police, said that his Good News International Church was shut down four years ago after operating for almost 20 years. However, a large number of his sermons are still accessible online, some of which looked to have been recorded after this time. He also denied he had forced his followers to starve themselves.
The fulfilment of biblical prophesies regarding Judgement Day is a major theme of his sermons. He told mothers not to vaccinate their children and to forgo medical assistance during childbirth.
Posts concerning the end of the world, imminent disaster, and the alleged hazards of science are included in the church’s online content. There are also regular warnings about an all-powerful demonic entity that has allegedly entered the world’s highest levels of government.