Detectives have discovered 18 more bodies in Shakahola village, Kilifi County, bringing the total number of those confirmed dead so far to 39.
Reports indicate that detectives exhumed a total of 10 graves on Sunday, April 23, 2023, bringing the three-day total of exhumations to 39.
The members are said to have starved themselves to death after instructions from a religious cult leader, Pastor Makenzie Nthenge, who told them they have to starve to death to "meet Jesus".
The exhumations and rescues have been happening on land owned by Nthenge, who is currently in police custody.
During the exhumations on Sunday, one woman was rescued in a critical condition but was adamant that she did not want to be rescued.
Interior CS speaks on Shakahola cult
In a statement on Sunday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki termed the deaths as a "massacre" that had gone beyond the freedom of worship.
"The unfolding Shakahola Forest Massacre is the clearest abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship. Prima facie, large-scale crimes under Kenyan law, as well as international law, have been committed. While the State remains respectful of religious freedom, this horrendous blight on our conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment of the perpetrator(s) of the atrocity on so many innocent souls but tighter regulation (including self-regulation) of every church, mosque, temple or synagogue going forward," Kindiki stated.
Kindiki is set to visit the area on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. The 800-acre Shakahola forest where the victims and cult followers have been hiding has been declared an active crime scene with more police officers deployed.
"While the Multi-agency security team on site is doing their best to unearth the truth and prevent further loss of lives, I have directed the Regional Commissioner for Coast Region together with the Regional Security Team to reinforce the team in Malindi ahead of my visit on Tuesday. Enough security officers have been deployed and the entire 800-acre forest is sealed off and declared a scene of crime," Kindiki added.
The main suspect, Pastor Nthenge, who is the head of the Good News International Church, surrendered to police in March and was charged after two kids died of starvation while in their parents' care.
He was released on a Ksh100,000 cash bail but was later re-arrested on April 15, 2023, after more bodies were found in relation to the same.
At least 11 members of the cult are recuperating in hospital after being rescued by the police, with three having been rescued in critical condition.