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Why GSU officers have been deployed in Shakahola Forest

Officers attached to the General Service Unit (GSU) were on April 26, 2023, deployed to Shakahola Forest in Malindi, Kilifi County to effect curfew orders issued by Interior CS Kithure Kindiki.

Shakahola Forest is where the bodies of members of a cult that was led by Mr Paul Mackenzie were buried after they starved to death believing it was a ticket to go to heaven and meet God.

An officer privy to the ongoing plans of dealing with the current situation in Shakahola forest where an exercise of exhuming bodies is ongoing said that the officers had been deployed to act as an operational force in the next 30 days.

“They will be there during the day and night and their role is to ensure that locals adhere to the curfew rules and also deal with any issues of insecurity that may occur,” said the officer who spoke in confidence as they are not allowed to address the media.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement signed by CS Prof Kithure Kindiki declared a night curfew in the forest.

In the statement, the CS said that the curfew orders will be going on for the next 30 days in and out of the Chakama Ranch.

“Curfew orders have also been declared and Gazetted within the said area between 1800 HRS

in the evening up to and until 0600 HRS in the morning for a period of thirty (30) days,” the statement read in part.

The CS said that the government is not going to allow any public gatherings, processions or movement of people either in groups or alone in the next 30 days.

Prof Kindiki said that only the Kilifi County Police Commander who will be allowed to allow people make any movements during the curfew time and this will be done in writing.

However, the police commander will have to make consultations with the commander spearheading the ongoing exercise of exhuming bodies that had been buried in shallow graves in the forest.

Prof Kindiki also declared the Chakama Ranch of Land Rates number 13472/1 measuring 20,418 hectares and situated in Lango Baya Division, Malindi Sub-County as a disturbed area.

“The aforesaid declaration is contained in the Kenya Gazette Legal Notices Number 52 and

53 of 2023 published on Tuesday, 25th April 2023,” he said, adding that already it had officially been declared a crime scene.

According to the CS, the area is an active security operation zone and no one should be allowed access to it as from today, Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

He also said that the government had also set up a Public Information, Tracing and Support Centre at the entrance of the ranch.

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