Number of bodies exhumed from suspected Kenyan cult graves jumps to 47
NAIROBI — Kenyan police have now exhumed the bodies of 47 people thought to be followers of a Christian cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death.
Police near the coastal town of Malindi started exhuming bodies on Friday from the Shakahola forest.
“In total, 47 people have died at the Shakahola forest,” detective Charles Kamau told Reuters on Sunday.
The exhumations were still ongoing, Kamau said.
Earlier this month, police rescued 15 members of the group — worshipers at the Good News International Church — who they said had been told to starve themselves to death. Four of them died before they reached hospital, police said.
The leader of the church, Paul Mackenzie, was arrested following a tip-off that suggested the existence of shallow graves belonging to at least 31 of Mackenzie’s followers.
Local media, citing police sources, reported that Mackenzie has refused to eat or drink while in police custody.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said the entire 800 acre forest had been sealed off and declared a scene of crime.
“This horrendous blight on our conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment of the perpetrator(s) of the atrocity on so many innocent souls, but tighter regulation (including self-regulation) of every church, mosque, temple or synagogue going forward,” he said.