Exhumation resumes at Shakahola as forensics team identifies more graves

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 6 Jun, 2023 14:30 | 2 mins read

The government has commenced the third phase of exhumation of bodies at Shakahola forest even as the forensics team identifies more mass graves.

The operation kicked off on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, moments after Interior CS Kithure Kindiki met Coast regional security and intelligence teams.

"The professional surveying and mapping of the expansive Chakama Ranch cutline of 37,921 acres will enable the multi-agency security team to conduct a methodical, scientific, and thorough investigation into what were clearly serious, complicated and organised crimes perpetrated by Mackenzie and his collaborators," Kindiki said.

So far, 242 bodies have been exhumed from the expansive Shakahola forest, with 95 rescued alive while starving themselves to death.

"The investigations team continues to gather all the relevant information and details to piece together watertight evidence that will ensure justice for the victims and accountability for the masterminds of the Shakahola massacre that has so far claimed 242 lives," Kindiki added.

"So far, our teams have managed to save 95 people who could have died in the forest. Some are still recuperating in hospitals, and some have been reunited with their families."

Kindiki says security roads will be opened in every 100 acres of the Chakama Ranch to aid in methodical and scientific search and rescue efforts as well as identification of graves.

Once the exhumation exercise is completed, Kindiki announced that it will be converted into a memorial site.

"Shakahola forest, the scene of crime where these grave crimes have been committed can not remain as it was. The Government will convert it into a national memorial, a place of remembrance so that Kenyans and the world do not forget what happened here," he said.

"Once this exercise is concluded, we shall call a congregation of all believers from all faiths and our national leadership for a commemoration service to secure the sacred right and freedom of worship that has been violated by crooks hiding behind scriptures."

Over 600 people have been reported missing in relation to the religious saga allegedly orchestrated by the head of the Good News International Church Paul Mackenzie.

At least 32 suspects have been arrested in relation with the same.

Shakahola massacre

Appearing before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the inquiry into the Shakahola massacre in May, Kindiki said that the exact number of people who perished in the massacre might never be known following reports that there are instances where bodies were plunged in random deep pit latrines scattered in the expansive Chakama ranch where cult leader Paul Mackenzie led an unknown number of his followers.

Mackenzie, who thrived on controversy by claiming that modern education was not God's plan, grew the number of his followers from tens to thousands.

He is accused of creating a cult through radicalisation and influencing his followers to starve themselves to death in order to "meet Jesus".