“Deeply concerned”: Kenya’s Church Leaders on Delayed Trial of Starvation Cult Suspects

Christian leaders during the meeting at ufungamano house in Nairobi,Kenya. Credit: NCCK

Christian leaders in Kenya are "deeply concerned" about the delayed litigation of suspected criminals behind the Shakahola starvation cult that has reportedly claimed at least 360 lives since April 21 when the process of exhuming bodies from the Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County, Eastern Kenya, started.

In a Tuesday, July 11 statement, Christian leaders, who include representatives of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) lament the delayed trial of one, “pastor” Paul Mackenzie Nthenge of “Good News International Church”, who allegedly convinced his followers that starving themselves to death would hasten their departure from this life in order to “meet Jesus”.

The church leaders say that they are “deeply concerned that the persons responsible for facilitating this holocaust are yet to be prosecuted for their crimes against the people of Kenya.”

“We especially observe that there are government officials who over the years failed to take action when reports of deaths and murders in the Shakahola forest were made,” they say, and pose, “When will they be prosecuted for abdication of duty?”

To date, controversial pastor Mackenzie, who, according to media reports, was earlier linked to children’s death, and his accomplices are yet to be prosecuted despite some court mentions at the Shanzu Law courts in the Kenyan coastal County of Mombasa.


In their July 11 statement that KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde , and the NCCK Chairman, Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, signed, church leaders in Kenya call on the President William Samoei Ruto-led “government to accord justice to the people of Kenya by ensuring all who facilitated this crime are prosecuted.”

They further fault the government for focusing on blaming the church and religious institutions for the massacre, laying the blame on the failure of the criminal justice system in Kenya.

“We are putting in place a process to document the 2 processes that led to this dark blot in our national history, and will especially highlight all who are responsible on account of their actions, mis-actions or non-action,” the Christian leaders say in their three-page statement. 

They commiserate with “all the families who have been bereaved,” and add that they are “constantly praying for those who have reported missing relatives.”

“Like all Kenyans and indeed all the world, we continue to follow with horror the exhumation of bodies in Shakahola forest,” the Christian leaders say in their July 11 statement following a meeting at Ufungamano house in Nairobi.

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Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.