16 bodies to be exhumed as state pathologist heads to Malindi

The deceased are believed to be followers of pastor Paul Mackenzie and to have died of starvation

Piece by: Alphonse Gari

• Already, detectives from the Homicide unit and other security personnel have visited  Shakahola to identify the graves.

• Malindi Criminal investigations officer Charles Kamau confirmed that the pathologist will be available on Thursday.

The controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie in a police Landcruiser from Malindi Police station to the Malindi law courts
Image: Alphonse Gari

Government pathologist Johansen Oduor is expected at Shakahola village in Magarini subcounty for the exhumation of at least 16 people who are believed to be followers of pastor Paul Mackenzie and died of starvation.

Already, detectives from the Homicide unit and other security personnel have visited Shakahola to identify the graves.

Malindi Criminal Investigations officer Charles Kamau confirmed that the pathologist will be available on Thursday.

“We are currently going to Shakahola with a team from the homicide unit to identify the graves ahead of the exhumation process,” he said.

Malindi court gave orders allowing the police to exhume 14 bodies which when added to the other orders of last month for two children to be exhumed, adds up to 16.

However initial intelligence had revealed that there could be more than 31 bodies that were buried.

A witness who had gone to search for his relative with the police said in every house they visited there were at least two graves.

Mackenzie who is currently being held at the Malindi police station for 14 days, reportedly told his followers including children, to fast for 40 days such that when one died he or she would go to heaven.

The controversial pastor reportedly bought 800 acres of land within Chakama ranch after closing his church in 2019 and that is where his followers were allocated portions to build houses and do farming.

Meanwhile, Kilifi MCAs have threatened to organise mass demonstrations in Malindi if the controversial preacher is released on bond.

This comes even as two more bodies were recovered in Shakahola which are believed to be of followers of Mackenzie who fasted to death.

Led by Speaker Teddy Mwambire, the MCAs said the cult-like preaching of Mackenzie had led to loss of lives of innocent people who were following his teachings. They say he should not be allowed back to the society as he will cause more harm.

Addressing a press conference at the Assembly, they said ‘the man of God’ does not deserve to be free at all as his teachings were misleading.

Mwambire said if at all the preacher is to be subjected to bond, it should be between Sh100 million to Sh1 billion so that he can stay away from the community.

“As per our ability in the law, the issue of this man is beyond us. It is a matter to be dealt with by the National Assembly and the Senate, ours is to give opinions,” he said.

Mwambire said the police should ensure he is held in custody even for one year or more.

Last month, he said the preacher was released on a Sh10,000 police bond because there was no strong case to warrant the court to hold him, adding that even now, he may end up being released on bond if there are no serious charges levelled against him.

“If there is a need for him to be given bond then it should be Sh100 million, a half a billion or even Sh1 billion for his own security because the current situation is not safe for him due to the anger Kilifi people have against him,” he said.

He however said if there will be any changes within the next two weeks to have him released, there will be mass demonstrations in Kilifi to make sure he is evicted.

Adu MCA Samson Zia who comes from Shakahola where Mackenzie and his followers live said the preacher should not be allowed to continue to mislead people.

Already he said lives have been lost and warned that if released, there would be more harm than good.

“We have lost our people and we cannot accept to lose more people because children are dying, the elderly are dying and more people are losing lives,” he said.

Zia wondered why the preacher relocated his family to Tanzania and the same man of God was telling people to fast to death so as to go to heaven.

Jaribuni MCA Peter Shehe who is also the spokesman of Mijikenda Kayas condemned the preacher’s teachings that are reportedly being done in the forest, terming it ungodly.

He called on the Ministry of Interior to take action against the preacher as he is unwanted not only in Kilifi, but the Coast region at large.

“We do not want to see Mackenzie here he should be taken back to his home and spread the teachings in his area,” he said.

Mariakani MCA Martha Koki said the teachings of Mackenzie were devilish as many children, women and men have died due to his faith.

She said fasting is there in the church but the manner in which Mackenzie was urging people to fast to death was ungodly.

“We want to see action taken against Mackenzie to prevent him from misleading more people to fast to death,” she said.

Koki also told the police to deny him food so that he fasts for the 40 days as he preaches to his followers to feel the pinch too.

Shimo la Tewa MCA said Mackenzie was a criminal who was spreading cult-like teachings and causing deaths of people by misusing religion.

He said even though there was freedom of worship in the country, religious denominations have to be registered.

“I call upon the government to investigate the ministry of Mackenzie to find out if its registered, and even if it’s registered, more investigations should be done,” he said.

Currently, Mackenzie is being held at the Malindi police station for 14 days pending investigations before he is charged.

Mackenzie’s lawyer George Kariuki said his client is yet to be charged on the allegations being raised, and police have only asked for more days to complete their probe.

“As it is right now, my client is yet to be charged and police asked for more days to complete their probe. This matter is still being investigated and until the complaint is established and written on a charge sheet, we might not be able to respond to anything,” Kariuki said.

On the issues of the alleged deaths of Mackenzie’s followers and families that are coming out to blame the preacher for the death of their relatives, Kariuki insisted the issue is under probe.

“As an advocate, I can only speak after being directed to do so by my client, who as we speak in custody. And in as much as there are allegations about death, that can only be proved through postmortem, and we have not been provided with any postmortem report to link my client to alleged deaths,” he said.

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