A family in Meru County is living in agony after seven family members are feared dead after joining the Shakahola cult led by Paul Mackenzie seven months ago.
Speaking to K24 Digital, Stephen Mwiti said he suspects his wife and six children died at Shakahola saga after they left home in October 2022 claiming they were going to meet Jesus.
He said his efforts to stop his wife who was also expectant by then from leaving for Shakahola were futile after she escaped with his three girls and three boys to join the controversial church led by Paul Mackenzie.
“The last time we spoke was a month ago and she told me that they were okay and waiting to meet Jesus and from that day her mobile phone went off and I have never heard from her again," said Mwiti.
He further expressed worry that his children could have died earlier since she never allowed him to speak with the kids even after requesting.
“Every time we spoke I asked her to come back home and bring children to go back to school but she could put me off and say education was not important and everything would be given for free when they meet Jesus in a few weeks,” Mwiti added.
He noted his effort to rescue his family from the vast forest proved futile after his efforts were always thwarted by suspected hired goons who prohibited anybody who was not a member of the church from accessing the area.
“We always heard that people were starving to death and were being buried inside there so I got worried and many times I tried to get access there to look for my family but the hired goons were very hostile and I only kept hoping my wife and children will come back home but now I have little hope that they are alive,” he added.
He lamented that his wife started behaving weirdly after joining the controversial church seven years ago after she was introduced to it by a friend
Mwiti noted that he kept on warning his wife against joining the cult, which fueled wrangles in the marriage.
His father Joseph M’Nkarichia, who also narrated the horrifying ordeal at their home in Thinyaine in Tigania West, said he received the sad news from his son who left home twenty years ago to live and work in Malindi.
“I received the sad news on Monday this week from my firstborn son Mwiti that his wife and his six children have died at Shakahola but added he is yet to go and identify the bodies,” M’Nkarichia added.
Addressing the media, the 78-year-old M’Nkarichia further said the sad news hit them when he was planning to travel to Malindi to meet his son’s wife and grandchildren for the first time.
“The last time I saw my son was five years ago and we rarely talk sometimes he picks up my calls the other times he does not and when we talked he only told me he got married and had six children but he has never brought his family home neither sent me photos of his wife or my grandchildren so I was planning to travel next months to look for them,” M’Nkarichia added.
Quarrels after joining Shakahola cult
However, he narrated that his son severally disclosed that they have been having quarrels with his wife after he joined a cult church.
“In 2021 he called me and told me he has chased his wife away after he joined a cult religion. He complained that his wife declined to use family planning and stopped taking children to the hospital and had developed a negative attitude against children going to school,” he added.
Further, he added his son mentioned Pastor Mechanzie as the owner of the church and told him he was not a ‘good man’ and raised worries over his family.
M’Nkarichia added after the conversation he warned his son against joining the Shakahola cult and asked him to relocate his family to Meru to cut the link with the church.
“My son told me they have been fighting a lot after the wife joined the church and she has been luring him to join the religion but he declined which led to endless wrangles at their home,” he added.
The aging man however said he regrets that Mwiti has lost his family to the false religion adding he is not ready to bury the family that he has never met.
“All I want is my son to come home and nothing else if his people did not come home when they were alive why should they come when they are dead? I don’t want to get involved because I have never seen them and I don’t know their roots and I have never paid dowry or even met my in-laws,” M’Nkarichia.
His Aunt Helen Nkatha said it was sad to receive a message from Mwiti that his family has perished in the Shakahola saga that has led to 90 bodies being exhumed.
“We condemned the devilish act and we are asking the government to ruthlessly punish the culprit because this a shocking incident in the country we pray that the family will get peace as we plan to travel to Malindi to comfort our nephew,” Nkatha said.