By: Sainabou Gassama
Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 29 associates have been charged with the murder of 191 children, whose bodies were discovered buried in a forest.
Paul Mackenzie, a cult leader and self-proclaimed pastor, was arrested in April last year and charged with terrorism-related crimes, manslaughter, and torture. He stands accused of the deaths of more than 400 followers.
He is accused of deceiving and luring people into cults under the pretext of being a pastor, telling his followers that through starvation, they would be saved and meet Jesus Christ.
However, the accused denied the charges in a court in Malindi.
Mackenzie was the founder and leader of what he called the “Good News International Ministry.” Followers have informed their families and officials that they believed Mackenzie when he preached that starvation was the path to salvation.
According to the followers, he allegedly split members into smaller groups assigned biblical names, and it is believed that these smaller groups died together and were buried together in mass graves in Shakahola Forest.
Prosecutors allege that Mackenzie instructed followers to starve themselves and their children to attain heaven before the world’s end, marking one of the worst cult-related tragedies in recent history.
Some of his followers said Mackenzie prohibits cult members from sending their children to school and from going to the hospital when they are ill, branding such institutions as Satanic.
However, the judge stated that the 30 defendants are due back in court on March 7th, 2024, while Mackenzie’s lawyer has said he is cooperating with the investigation into the deaths for a bond hearing.