It was in April last year that the police found a mass grave with over 400 people in the Shakahola forest in southeastern Kenya. The autopsy showed that most had died as a result of starvation. But some, especially children, also showed signs of other violence, such as strangulation and suffocation.
Urged to starve to “meet Jesus”
Survivors from the sect have told in interrogations that they were encouraged to starve themselves and their children to death and that in this way they would get to “meet Jesus”.
– My children fasted for four days without food or water. They cried. When I saw how weak they were, I gave them water. I told myself I couldn’t let my children die, says a witness to the BBC.
Pastor Paul Mackenzie is now being charged along with 29 other cult members. He has previously been charged with terrorism, murder and torture of children.
The sect pastor denies responsibility for the deaths
At first, a majority of the accused were seen as crime victims, but during the course of the investigation, the police discovered that several of the suspected crime victims had let their children die. Some also gave false identities and did not tell the authorities about their children.
Paul Mackenzie denies responsibility for the deaths. He claims the church was closed in 2019.