Cult leader charged with mass murder
Publish date: 12 February 2024
Issue Number: 1063
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Kenyan Christian cult leader Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and 29 other suspects were yesterday charged with the murder of 191 children. The children’s bodies were exhumed from Shakahola forest in eastern Kenya last year where Mackenzie and his associates are accused of running a death cult. Authorities exhumed more 400 bodies from the sprawling forest after months of search efforts. Deutsche Welle reports that prosecutors claim Nthenge ordered his followers to starve themselves and their children to death, claiming that this would ensure they would go to heaven before the end of the world. Most of the 429 victims who were found had starved to death but some appeared to have been beaten, strangled and suffocated. The case has been dubbed the Shakahola Forest Massacre and it has led the government to seek a tightening of regulations about fringe religious groups. Kenya, a largely Christian country, has struggled to address criminal activity linked to small churches and cults. In 2019, Mackenzie was also accused of involvement in the deaths of two children believed to have been starved, suffocated, and buried in a shallow grave.