Mackenzie belongs to prison – President Ruto

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 24 Apr, 2023 12:25 | 2 mins read
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President William Ruto. PHOTO/Courtesy

President William Ruto has called for the imprisonment of the head of the Good News International Church Pastor Mackenzie Nthenge, who is accused of influencing his followers to starve to death.

Speaking on Monday, April 23, 2023, during the Prison Officers Cadet pass-out parade in Ruiru, Kiambu, Ruto likened Mackenzie to a terrorist.

"People like Paul Mackenzie (of the Shakahola cult) and any other terrorists, do not belong to any religion. They belong in prison," Ruto said.

"What is being witnessed in Shakahola is akin to terrorism. Mr Mackenzie who acts as a pastor is in fact a terrible criminal. Terrorists use religion to advance their heinous acts. People like Mackenzie are using religion to do exactly the same thing."

This comes moments after police discovered over 47 bodies buried in Shakahola forest, which the cut leader had been using as a hideout for his followers.

On Sunday, Kenya Red Cross, which has established a tracing desk in Malindi, revealed that over 112 people had been reported missing, suspected to have joined the cut.

"We have set up tracing and counselling desks at the Malindi Sub-County Hospital for the Shakahola response. So far 112 people have been reported missing at the tracing desk," Kenya Red Cross said.

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".

Mackenzie promises more bodies

So far, police officers investigating the matter have identified 58 graves even as Makenzie told them they will find more than 1,000 people who had gone to “meet Jesus”.

 Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome is set to visit the exhumation site on Monday, April 24, 2023, ahead of Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki who will visit the area on Tuesday.

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.

Mackenzie 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.