How air hostess quit her job for Kilifi cult – Nigerian brother-in-law speaks
“I am going to the shop, I’ll be back soon.”
Those were the last words Ms Constance Charo said to her Nigerian husband, Mr Abbas Babatunde, as she left their home in Likoni, Mombasa, on April 7.
He has been longing to hear his wife’s voice again ever since.
For a man who found love in Kenya, Mr Babatunde never imagined the day would come when his wife would wake up and walk out of what he at least thought was a happy marriage.
“My wife had in the past expressed suicidal thoughts, so I had started monitoring her movements. When she did not return after about two to three hours, I started looking for her around the compound, but nobody seemed to know her whereabouts,” says Mr Babatunde.
He had no idea that Ms Charo was in constant touch with her elder sister, Betty, who works as a flight attendant for Qatar Airways, and that she was on her way back to Kenya at the time. That was until he went through the sisters’ WhatsApp messages.
“They were discussing their plans to travel on April 6 …. and something about the gates of heaven being closed on April 8.” “Before that, their father [Mr Charles Charo] had sent them a letter telling them to go to a forest where they would meet Jesus,” says Mr Babatunde.
A few days later, he started receiving phone calls from people he knew to be Betty’s co-workers. “They were asking about her and why she had not returned to work. I contacted Betty, but it was her father who answered the call, claiming that she had already travelled back to Qatar,” says Mr Babatunde.
He says he didn’t believe him. He later found out that Betty had booked a one-way ticket from Nairobi to Malindi. It was then he realised that his wife and her siblings might have been visiting their mother, who lived in Malindi town.
“I was not a good person, according to my mother-in-law, and in her eyes I was a stubborn person, so they went and left me”.
A week later, he received a call from Mr Paul Chengo, his father-in-law’s brother, asking about the whereabouts of six other family members (Betty’s mother, father, sister, brother and Constance’s daughter).
“We spoke to my brother Charles last Monday and he was fine. He told me that he was going to Tanzania on a business trip,” says Mr Chengo.
Mr Chengo, who lives in Bamburi, Mombasa, says that his brother used to live in Likoni and they would often visit each other.
“He said they used to travel to Busia with the children. When I called Babatunde, who is like my son-in-law, I was shocked to learn that their phone had been traced to a bush in Shakahola. We are now stranded among hundreds of families waiting to hear from the detectives about the way forward,’ says Mr Chengo.
He says the whole family adored Mr Paul Mackenzie’s Times TV. They started listening to the ‘pastor’ in 2017, he says.
“They were taught some controversial teachings, like not taking their children to school. Their mother, Betty Ajenta, is a loyal follower of Mackenzie. She then influenced the rest of the family,” says Mr Chengo.
The two now claim to have no idea how the family ended up among the other supporters in Shakahola village.
“We have been tracing our relatives’ phones with the DCI and they have expressed hope that they might still be alive,” says Mr Babatunde, clutching a Qatar Airways bag given to him by his sisterin-law, Betty.
This, along with photographs of the six family members, is all that remains of a life they all once shared and they do not know if they will ever see their loved ones again.