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Kenya starvation cult death hits 90, over 200 still missing (including Qatar air hostess)

90 bodies of victims of a religious starvation cult in eastern Kenya have to date been exhumed as the search for 213 more missing persons continues, including a Qatar nurse whose 8-year-old son was among the first bodies found in Malindi mass graves site in March.

(This is developing story)

The latest police report from Kenya now places the number of bodies exhumed from shallow graves in the country’s coastal town of Malindi to at least 90, all of who are believed to have starved to death.

The exhumation continues this week and will be done by a multi-agency team led by security personnel and humanitarian organisations

At the heart of this inhumane act is controversial Pastor Paul Mackenzie, who leads the Good News International Church has indoctrinated his followers for more than two decades.

The pastor allegedly asked the congregation to abandon “earthly life” and meet at his 325-hectare (800-acre) farm in a village called Shakahola in Kilifi county for a fast “to meet Jesus”.

Even more devastating is news that some 213 people who are linked to the church have been reported missing, according to Kenya Red Cross Society. 112 of this are believed to be aged below 18 years.

As Kenyan authorities continues to look into the mysterious dealings of the church, and prevent further loss of lives, it has now also come out that Mackenzie maybe involved in body organ trafficking after some of the bodies exhumed in Shakahola Forest claimed to be missing some organs. The shocking claim, which is yet to be confirmed by Kenyan authorities, was made by the former Nairobi governor Hon Mike Sonko.

“Ati Pastor Mackenzie is now accused of organ trafficking after some bodies were found without some body organs. Huyu ni pastor ama devil worshipper,” Sonko tweeted.

Since the formation of the church in 2003, the televangelist has constantly been at loggerheads with local authorities after persistent reports that he’s been asking children to quit formal education.

McKenzie, who is believed to have prophetic powers has in the past claimed to have seen apparitions of Jesus, claimed to have received a prophecy to instruct his members to quit their jobs, schools, and as of late to stop feeding on worldly food but fast to death in order to meet ‘Him’.

The church members would meet every Saturday under a tree from 8am to 5pm for ‘life lessons’ from the charismatic, respected man of God.

They were not allowed to have contact with the “outside” world if they wanted to go to heaven. To completely disassociate themselves from the worldly way of life, he told them to destroy all documents given by the government, including IDs and birth certificates.

Pastor Paul Mackenzie is due to appear in court on May 4.

However, on April 13, his extreme religious indoctrination was exposed after the government acted on a tip-off that two children had been starved and suffocated to death by their parents on the pastor’s instruction and immediately deployed police officers to his farm in Shakahola to investigate. During the search, police found 16 emaciated people, four of whom died before reaching the hospital.

After he was arrested upon this gruesome discovery, McKenzie appeared in court, but was released on 100 000 Kenyan shillings (about R13 600 / $740 / ) bail.

Kenyan starvation cult; authorities reacts

Responding to the shocking incident, President William Ruto was on Monday saying what he witnessed in Shakahola “is akin to terrorism,” adding that McKenzie belongs in jail, and that “religious groups that preach against the tenets of the constitution would face the might of the law”.

In a statement posted Sunday on Twitter as seen in the screenshot below, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said a strong security personnel was deployed at the weekend to the 325 hectare plot which has since been sealed off and declared a scene of crime.

The search is continuing for over 200 missing people, including a Qatar air hostess (as per this report by Nairobi’s Ghetto Radio) are said to have been living at pastor’s farm. McKenzie’s is due to appear in court on May 4.

No word on the missing Qatar air hostess

Betty and her son Jason. Image – Ghetto Radio Digital.

Beatrice Ajenta Charles, a Qatar air hostess referred to as Betty is said to be among the missing after she flew to Kenya upon the death of her son Jason, 8, who was living with his grandparents at the time and was among the bodies exhumed during the initial search in March, majority of whom – 50 to 60 percent – are said to be children.

Strangely, Betty is said to have deleted all her social posts, sold her property and belongings in Qatar before booking a one way flight to Malindi. She is believed to have donated all the money to the pastor.

As the result, it’s understood that her friends and colleagues are in disbelief, wondering – based on her prior behavior – if she could have been one of the Mackenzie’s doctrine victims.

*For a special collection of well researched articles unpacking trending topics of the day from across the continent, be sure to visit the NOWinAfrica page regularly.

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Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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