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Shakahola cult deaths: 314 followers of Paul Mackenzie still missing

With more than 90 bodies already exhumed from Shakahola cult mass graves in Kilifi County, the Kenya Red Cross Society now says 314 people suspected to be followers of cult leader Paul Mackenzie are still missing.

Individuals thought to be members of Good News International Church who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death were reported missing by family members.

The Kenya Red Cross Society coast regional coordinator Hassan Musa said they are still receiving more relatives of family members who are looking for their loved ones.

According to Musa, of the 212 individuals, 112 are aged below 18 years while 99 were male and 113 were female, two were among those rescued.

Police have now recovered more than 90 bodies in the forest in Shakahola, Kilifi County, with the total number of deaths attributed to the cult still unknown as police barred media from accessing the ranch on Wednesday.

Also read: Shakahola cult deaths: Reuben Kigame calls for tougher regulations of churches

Musa also said Malindi Hospital mortuary is struggling to accommodate more than 100 bodies, including the 75 that were brought from Shakahola village.

In an interview in his office on Tuesday evening, Kilifi County Executive Committee member for Health, Mr Peter Mwarogo, said the mortuary at Malindi Sub-county Hospital was full.

“The Malindi mortuary has a capacity of 30 bodies. We were overwhelmed because we already had 29 bodies from different areas. It was a challenge for us to keep 94 bodies in the facility,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Kilifi county government received 200 capacity refrigerated containers from the Kenya Red Cross Society to preserve bodies from Shakahola village.

The government began exhuming bodies from clandestine graves on the sprawling 800-acre property owned by cult leader Mackenzie last Friday.

Also read: Cult leader Paul Mackenzie dropped out of school didn’t study theology, family says

Families and relatives of missing loved ones are still flocking to the rescue centre to trace their loved ones.

Homicide detectives are searching mass graves on the 800-acre piece of land that belongs to cult leader Mackenzie. On Tuesday morning, five bodies were found in one grave.

Mackenzie was arrested on April 14 following a tip-off that suggested the existence of shallow graves containing the bodies of some of his followers.

He appeared before Malindi Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Usui and was not required to plead to any charge, with the prosecution seeking 30 more days to hold him as they complete the probe.

Mackenzie was arraigned alongside 13 others people in the case that will be mentioned on May 2, 2023.

Also read: Cult involvement: How to recognize warning signs and protecting loved ones