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Kenyan pastors who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law

Religion has always been a difficult topic to a section of Kenyans simply because of the many strange things that the men of the cloth purport to do in the name of God.

Currently, the country is still trying to wrap its head around the murders of 110 people who were congregants of Pastor Paul Mackenzie of Good News International Church.

According to autopsies, many of the victims are said to have been strangled and suffocated.

Opinion is however divided regarding the credibility of some religious leaders and their organisations.

Nairobi News take a look at some of these men of cloth who have had run ins with the law because of their questionable doctrines.

Victor Kanyari

Who can forget the ‘panda mbegu’ scam? Victor Kanyari, who ran the Salvation Healing Ministry, assembled a team of racketeers who rehearsed false testimonies and staged “healings” in front of his congregation.

In one of the most damning “miracles”, a former assistant revealed how Kanyari used potassium permanganate, which turns reddish when mixed with water, to convince his followers that his prayers washed away mysterious diseases.

His assistants also hid needles between their fingers, which they then dumped into foot baths to add to the illusion. The Director of Public Prosecution later ordered a probe into his activities.

Pastor James Ng’ang’a

An ex-convict at Shimo la Tewa Prison in Mombasa, Pastor Ng’ang’a was once at the centre of police investigation into a fatal road accident near Limuru that left one person dead.

Multiple eyewitness accounts claimed the pastor was the driver of the car that caused the accident. The pastor Ng’ang’a however denied the claims.

Neno Evangelist Pastor James Ng’ang’a and the 4-star hotel that is on sale. PHOTO| COURTESY

He has also received multiple warnings from the Communications Authority of Kenya for using derogatory terms when addressing his congregants.

Bishop Gilbert Deya

Who can forget the case of Kenyan-born Bishop Gilbert Deya, who claimed to have a supernatural ability to make infertile women pregnant?

Bishop Deya’s case only got stranger when a UK-Kenyan investigation concluded that he and his wife were stealing Kenyan babies and smuggling them to Britain.

Televangelist Gilbert Deya at the Mlimani Law Court on March 10, 2021 to answer to child trafficking charges. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

The Kenyan police alleged that the Deya Ministry was a baby-snatching ring and in 2006, called for his extradition by the UK, which is, unfortunately, where he still remains. Bishop Deya moved to the UK in the 1990s and started several churches.

Bishop Thomas Wahome

Thomas Wahome of Helicopter of Christ Church, began charging members of his congregation about Sh1,000 to tell them if their names are written in the Book of Life. In Christianity, the Book of Life is where God records the name of all who are destined for heaven.

Bishop Wahome, whose followers had branded him a prophet, believed he had been granted special access to the pages of God’s book. His followers had reportedly been turning to him to check on their heavenly status.

Bishop Thomas Wahome of Helicopter Ministries in a Nyeri court on October 29, 2015. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

He routinely told his flock to send the money and then come back the following day to know if their names are in the Book of Life.

This wasn’t the first of such schemes by Bishop Wahome on his followers. He had previously told his followers that they could be healed of their diseases and ailments by just touching his clothes. However, each congregant had to pay Sh1,200 to get the chance of touching his clothes.

But this is not what made him know the insides of a court house. The preacher moved to court to bar the DPP from arresting him. He was being accused of using abusive language against a state official.

Pastor Michael Njoroge

Pastor Michael Njoroge of the Fire Gospel Ministries was investigated in 2012, after claiming that his vehicle was sprayed with bullets in Embakasi, Nairobi. However, police suspect the incident could have been stage managed.

Njoroge became famous after he was expose by a sex worker who claimed that he had been paying her and other women to give false testimonies in his church.

Esther Mwende claimed that she did not know that her customer was a ‘man of the collar’. According to her, after the first intercourse, Pastor Njoroge told her that he was a ‘man of God’ and that he had a business proposal that would see her make quick money.

What followed soon after was a dramatic plan that could have seen Ms Mwende earn Sh200,000. And what’s more, she would earn a bonus for recruiting other ladies in the business.

Pastor Paul Mackenzie

A murder incident report filed at Langobaya Police Station located in Malindi Sub County under OB Number 12/17/3/2023 revealed an occurrence of incidents of two children’s mysterious deaths linked to the pastor. Also listed as suspects in the children’s death are Isaac Ngala and Ms Emily Kaunga, the children’s parents.

Cult leader Paul Mackenzie with some of the followers at Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on May 2, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

Court documents allege that the two, on advice from Mackenzie, had starved and suffocated the children, Seth Hinzano and Evabra Dito. This was the beginning of several murders uncovered pinned to Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the spiritual leader. Police autopsy revealed that the victims had been strangled and some suffocated.

Pastor Ezekiel Odero

Pastor Ezekiel Odero of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church is being investigated for various crimes including genocide. He is linked to the Shakahola massacre that has claimed over 110 lives.

The police are also linking the preacher with Shakahola cult leader Paul Mackenzie of the Good News International Ministries in Malindi.

New Life International Church leader Pastor Ezekiel Odero when he appeared before the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on April 28, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

On Thursday Pastor Odero was released from police custody, after a court said the State failed to give sufficient reason to extend his time in police custody. Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido released the televangelist on a Sh3 million bond or Sh1.5million cash bail.