East Africa

Bodies of shakahola victims to be handed over to relatives next week, says Kenyan authority

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Multi-agency team exhume bodies at Shakahola Forest last year in july

The Kenyan government says it will release some of the bodies belonging to victims of the Shakahola starvation cult next week.

At least 34 bodies have been identified and linked to their families, out of the hundreds that were exhumed last year.

The bodies of 429 people, including children were dug up from graves in shakahola, a remote forest outside the coastal town of Malindi. Most signs showed starvation and assault on the bodies of the victims.

Speaking to media from the Malindi Sub-County Hospital on Wednesday, the government Pathologist Dr. Johansen Oduor revealed that the State will provide counselling services to the affected families before handing over the bodies to them.

Dr. Oduor also advised the persons seeking to collect the bodies to ensure, they possess a letter from their local chiefs, stressing that individuals who provided blood samples for DNA testing must be present during the body collection process.

“these measures are crucial for ensuring that the bodies are released to the actual family members without any complications.” Dr. Oduor said

The families of the 34 individuals whose bodies were recovered and identified from the Shakahola mass grave site will start receiving their remains from March 26, 2024.

What you need to know

Authorities said Mackenzie, the head of the Good News International Church, ordered his followers in southeastern Kenya to starve themselves and their children to death so that they could go to heaven before the world ended.

People with knowledge of the cult’s activities told Reuters news agency last year that Mackenzie planned the mass starvation in three phases: first children, then women and young men, and finally the remaining men

More than 400 bodies were uncovered over months of exhumations across tens of thousands of acres of forest, making this one of the world’s worst cult-related tragedies in recent history.

Preacher Paul Mackenzie, centre, who was arrested for asking his followers to starve to death in order to meet Jesus, appearing at a court in Malindi, Kenya on May 2, 2023 [AP Photo]
Derek Kanalo
the authorDerek Kanalo
News Reporter/ Editor
Am a professionally trained and well skilled media personality. Accuracy is part of my top priority as a journalist.

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