Kenya: Death Toll Passes 70 as Police Investigate Starvation Cult

    Kenya: Death Toll Passes 70 as Police Investigate Starvation Cult
    Last updated Apr 24, 2023
    Image credit: Al Jazeera


    • Kenyan police on Monday recovered 73 bodies, mostly from mass graves in an eastern Kenya forest, as the death toll of alleged followers of a Christian cult — who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves — continues to rise.[1]
    • The final count could be even higher as the Red Cross has stated that 112 members of the Good News International Church have been reported missing. Police have found 29 survivors, some of them seemingly unwilling to be rescued.[2]
    • This comes as an 800-acre woodland area in the Shakahola forest near the coastal town of Malindi has been combed since last week after receiving warnings from local people and rights activists about the cult's activities.[3]
    • Almost 50 graves have been identified so far, reportedly indicating that large-scale crimes under Kenyan law as well as international law have been committed. The leader of the cult is Pastor Paul Mackenzie.[4]
    • Mackenzie, who had been arrested twice before — in 2019 and last month — over the deaths of children and was released on bond in both cases, was arrested on April 15 after a judge ordered him to be detained for 14 days so police could carry out investigations.[5]
    • Fourteen other people are also in custody over the Shakahola deaths, including a man self-identified as Pastor Zablon Wa Yesu, who is believed to be Mackenzie's ally and co-conspirator.[6]


    Narrative A

    Kenyan authorities turned a blind eye to the warning signs surrounding Paul Mackenzie's death cult, which led to the deaths of so many people. Many bodies continue to be discovered daily, and rights groups alerted police to his radical teachings for years to no avail. We must continue to ask questions about how much authorities knew about this deadly cult before they started to investigate.

    Narrative B

    Paul Mackenzie is a terrorist, and Kenyan authorities are doing all they can to make sure his death cult is stopped and justice is served. Police are working together to rescue as many victims as possible and are fully committed to helping those deceived by this horrific group.

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