Nairobi — Six additional bodies were on Thursday exhumed in the ongoing exhumation exercise in Kilifi’s Shakahola forest bringing the total number of bodies recovered at the mass grave site to 264.
Since the commencement of the operation, the government has made 45 arrests and successfully rescued 95 victims associated with the Shakahola Starvation cult led by controversial televangelist Paul Mackenzie of the Good News International Church.
To aid in the identification of victims’ families, the government has collected a total of 93 DNA samples.
Currently, 19 families have been identified, while the number of individuals reported missing by their relatives stands at 613.
The government further revealed plans to open security roads in every 100 acres of the Chakama Ranch as part of a comprehensive effort to aid in the systematic and scientific search and rescue operations of the victims of the Shakahola starvation cult as well as identification of graves.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki made the announcement during his visit to the Shakahola Forest, where he oversaw the third phase of the exhumation exercise.
Kindiki said that investigation has uncovered evidence suggesting that controversial televangelist Paul Mackenzie may have extended his criminal activities beyond 800 acres.
“We are concentrating on more than 37,000 acres, and that is why in every 100 acres, there will be a security road to facilitate thorough, methodical, and scientific investigation and evidence gatherings gathering,” Kindiki said.
The Interior CS affirmed government’s commitment to rescue all citizens from the expansive Chakama Ranch “dead or alive.”
Commenting on the progress of the rescue exercise, Kindiki indicated that the rescue 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,” he added.
Kindiki maintained that the government has nothing to hide in regard to the happenings in Shakahola Forest.
He added that the government will do everything in its power to ensure that such a tragedy does not occur again in our country.
In regard to the ongoing case against Mackenzie, Kindiki said that investigations team had assured them that the State has a watertight case against the preacher and his collaborators who are in custody.
“We have evidence that is sufficient to prove charges of genocide and crimes against humanity,” he said
“This is a case like no other, and we cannot afford to lose it. This case against Mackenzie must be won, the perpetrators must be convicted.”
Kindiki further reiterated government’s resolve to convert Shakahola Forest site into a national memorial site
“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,” he said.