Nairobi News


Exhumations in Shakahola Forest suspended due to bad weather

The government has halted the exhumation of bodies in Shakahola Forest, Kilifi County, due to unfavourable weather conditions. As of Friday, mid-morning, 109 bodies had been recovered from shallow graves.

The decision to suspend exercise was announced by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, who explained that experts had advised waiting for the ground to dry before proceeding to ensure the preservation of evidence and avoid further damage to the bodies.

The government began conducting postmortems on the exhumed bodies on Thursday following a directive from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji earlier this week.

Also read: Political leaders defend Pastor Odero, fault government for his arrest

The bodies were discovered in a grave site in Shakahola village, where followers of the controversial Pastor Paul Mackenzie are believed to have been buried. The bodies that have been exhumed are currently being preserved in various mortuaries in Kilifi.

Mackenzie, the leader of the Good News International Church, has been accused of instructing his followers to starve themselves to death to “meet Jesus.”

Since his arrest on April 14, homicide detectives have been searching the 800-acre property for additional graves.

The number of bodies exhumed is expected to rise, given the vastness of the site and the lack of clarity regarding the timeline of the massacre and burials.

Earlier in the week, CS Kindiki imposed a 30-day dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Chakama Ranch area.

Also read: TV stations linked to Pastor Odero, cult leader Mackenzie taken off air

The curfew restricts public gatherings, processions, and movement into and out of Chakama Ranch from 6pm to 6am for 30 days.

The only exceptions to this rule will be that granted-written permission from the Kilifi county police commander in consultation with the operation commander.

The 20,418-hectare area in Lango Baya division, Malindi sub-county, Kilifi, was declared a disturbed area by Kindiki earlier this week.

The government has also deployed additional security personnel to search the expansive Shakahola forest for any remaining followers of the televangelist who may still be alive.

Also read: How Paul Mackenzie’s church was rocked with leadership crisis for years