Deadly fast in Kenya Pastor is also accused of assassinations

Deadly fast in Kenya: Pastor is also accused of “assassinations”.

Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, already charged with “terrorism,” “torture” and “cruelty” to children and “involuntary manslaughter,” is also charged with the “murder” of 191 children linked to followers of his evangelical sect A Kenyan court announced this on Tuesday.

• Also read: Deadly fast in Kenya: Pastor accused of “terrorism”.

• Also read: Deadly speed in Kenya: The death toll in the “Shakahola massacre” exceeds 400

A total of 429 bodies were found in Shakahola Forest (southeast), where he preached to fast until death to “meet Jesus” before the world, which he announced in August 2023.

The self-proclaimed priest and 29 other defendants have pleaded not guilty to the “murder” charge, an AFP journalist noted during their appearance in a court in the city of Malindi, ten months after the revelation of this affair, which shocked Kenya in particular. religious country in East Africa.

One person was also found to be mentally unfit for criminal prosecution following psychiatric reports.

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie had already pleaded not guilty to previous charges against him, including “facilitating the commission of a terrorist act”, “possession of an article in connection with an offense under the Prevention of Terrorism Act” and “participation in organized crime”. “. On January 18, the cases of “involuntary killing” and “radicalization” were officially announced, on January 23, the cases of “involuntary killing” and on January 25, the cases of “torture” and “cruelty” to children.

Of the 429 deaths, 191 cases are related to the charge of “murder” – according to the indictment seen by AFP on Tuesday, there were 188 children and three small children – and 238 cases of “manslaughter”.

The former taxi driver turned pastor has been in custody since April 14, the day after the first victims were discovered in Shakahola Forest.

The four parts of the prosecution (terrorism, crimes against children, murder, manslaughter) were divided into four courts, three in Mombasa and one in Malindi city. It is currently unclear whether the case will result in one or four trials.


Research carried out since April 2023 in Shakahola, a vast “bush area” on the Kenyan coast, has enabled the exhumation of 429 bodies, some of which had been buried for several years.

Autopsies revealed that most of the victims died of starvation. Some, including children, were strangled, beaten or suffocated.

The revelation of this scandal, dubbed the “Shakahola massacre,” brought Kenyan authorities under fire for failing to prevent the pastor's actions despite his repeated arrests for his extreme preaching.

In a report published in October, a senatorial commission highlighted “failures” in the justice system and police that were alerted in 2017 and 2019.

In July, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said that “the Shakahola massacre was the worst security breach in Kenya's history” and vowed to “relentlessly push for legal reforms to tame rogue preachers.”

The affair has revived debate over religious policing in Kenya.

President William Ruto, himself a devout Protestant who was supported by evangelical circles when he was elected in August 2022, set up a working group responsible for “examining the legal and regulatory framework for religious organizations”.

However, previous attempts at regulation have met with strong resistance, particularly in the name of religious freedom.

The government announced it would transform Shakahola Forest into a “place of remembrance” “so that Kenyans and the world do not forget what happened.”