An inquiry into the activities of self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, accused of inciting his followers to starve themselves to death, has uncovered “failings” in Kenya’s security and criminal justice systems, according to a report seen by AFP.
Mackenzie, the founder of the Good News International Church, has been in police custody since mid-April after human remains were discovered in the Shakahola forest. Autopsies revealed that some victims, including children, were strangled, beaten, or suffocated, in addition to starvation being the main cause of death. The Senate commission of inquiry stated that the Shakahola tragedy has resulted in the highest number of fatalities in Kenya’s recorded history. The report also highlighted the failure of the criminal justice system to deter Mackenzie’s activities, despite previous charges in 2017 for radical preaching.
The local police force and county’s security committee were also criticized for their inaction in response to recurring complaints against Mackenzie’s activities. The commission called for the introduction of a “Religious Organisations Bill” to regulate religious institutions in Kenya.
The investigation and search for bodies in the Shakahola forest are ongoing, with Mackenzie and his co-defendants expected to be formally charged with terrorism offenses.