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It should not have happened – Ruto apologises for Shakahola cult killings

President William Ruto has apologised to Kenyans over the tragic Shakahola massacre during an interaction with the media on Sunday.

“As President, the Shakahola incident should not have happened. For that, I’m truly sorry,” Ruto said remorsefully, acknowledging the government’s negligence that led to the loss of many lives. “It is obvious that there was laxity in our government that unfortunately led to the deaths of many Kenyans. I do not take this lightly,” he added.

Ruto assured the nation that a thorough investigation involving Intelligence, Criminal Investigation Department and local chiefs was underway to bring the culprits to justice.

“Intelligence, Criminal Investigation Department and chiefs etc. We will get to the bottom of this,” he promised.

Also read: Why GSU officers have been deployed in Shakahola Forest

The Shakahola massacre was a gruesome case in which hundreds were convinced to starve to death in order to ‘meet Jesus’.

Ruto announced that the government had already identified those responsible, including the now infamous Pastor Paul Mackenzie, his wife and 15 others who are in custody facing terror-related charges in connection with the deaths.

The President insisted that all those responsible for the tragic deaths at Shakahola, which have been blamed on the teachings of a cult-like church, would be brought to justice.

“We will deal with individuals who abuse the sanctity of faith,” Ruto declared, promising to work with religious organisations to prevent a repeat of such a horrific incident.

To date, a total of 201 people have been exhumed from the sprawling 800-acre site at Shakahola, while the whereabouts of 609 remain unknown.

The exhumation process is due to resume on Tuesday 16 May.

However, the President cautioned against sweeping condemnations of churches and their clergy, stressing that it would be unfair to condemn the entire church on the basis of the actions of a few individuals.

Also read: Unconventional church practices that led to the arrest of 33 including 28 minors

In response to the tragedy, the President also announced the formation of a 17-member task force to review the legal and regulatory framework governing religious institutions in Kenya.

The task force, comprising religious leaders and legal experts, is expected to identify gaps that have allowed extremist religious organisations to flourish in Kenya and formulate a legal framework to curb their activities.

The task force includes eminent personalities such as Bishop Mark Kariuki, Bishop (Dr) Eli Rop, Archbishop Maurice Muhatia, Judy Thongori and Dr Faridun Abdalla, among others, with Martin Ndiwa Talian and Maria Goretti Nyariki serving as joint secretaries of the task force.

Also read: Shakahorror! Kilifi cult’s victims had missing organs