In summary

  • So far, 58 people have been confirmed dead after six more bodies that had been buried closely together in a single file, were exhumed as the Inspector General and his entourage visited the area this morning
  • Koome described the deaths as disturbing and inhuman

The Inspector General of the National Police Service Mr Japhet Koome, today visited Shakahola forest in Malindi, Kilifi County, at the site where exhumation of human bodies buried in shallow mass graves is currently ongoing.

So far, 73 bodies have been exhumed after 28 more were exhumed today. Six more bodies that had been buried closely together in a single file, were exhumed as the Inspector General and his entourage visited the area this morning. Only 33 people have until now been rescued since the operation began.

Mr Koome, who was accompanied by the Director of Criminal Investigations Mr Mohamed Amin, said that a comprehensive probe bringing together forensic experts from the DCI, the government pathologist and the government chemist would be conducted to determine whether some of the victims could have been murdered before being buried.

The IGP who described the deaths as disturbing and inhuman went further to condemn religious organizations that promoted extremist beliefs and operated outside the confines of the law, adding that stern action would be taken against them.

Search teams led by detectives from DCI’s Department of Homicide investigations and the Forensic Crime Scene Investigations Unit, have been digging the site where the bodies linked to a cult have been recovered since the operation began last week.

Mackenzie told followers to starve to meet Jesus

Following the discovery, a full scale probe into the deaths linked to the movement, the Good News International Church was immediately launched leading to the arrest of the sect’s leader Makenzie Nthenge, who reportedly told his followers to starve themselves in order to “meet Jesus”. Nthenge who has had previous run-ins with the law was first arrested by police in 2017.

Recently on March 23, 2023, he was arraigned in court after being arrested for the alleged death of two children who are believed to have been starved to death. The suspect was released on a Sh10,000 cash bail, before being rearrested on April 14 and has been in custody since then.

The operation followed a tip-off from the public prompting detectives to comb the remote piece of land located approximately 79 Kilometers from Malindi town, where the mass graves have been uncovered.

In a briefing to the IGP, the Director of Homicide at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Mr Martin Nyuguto said that he believed that there were more bodies buried in shallow graves scattered across the 800-acre forest which has since been sealed off as a crime scene.

Other sites identified

Mr Nyuguto added that his team had identified other sites where more bodies are believed to have been buried and they were conducting the exhumation exercise systematically, while gathering the relevant samples for further forensic analysis and identification of the bodies.

Mr Nyuguto is leading the operation which also includes experts from the government pathologist and the government chemist.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross and contingents of police officers have been deployed in the expensive piece of land on a search and rescue mission. Police believe that there could be more survivors scattered in the forest which is infested by wild animals and are working round the clock to save more lives.

Accompanying the top security chiefs were the Deputy Director of the DCI Investigations Bureau Mr Paul Wachira, Police Spokesperson Dr Resila Onyango, DCI’s O/C Comms & Public Affairs Mike Mugo, among other senior officers and police commanders.

The security team arrived at the Malindi Airport aboard a Police Cessna caravan at 9:55am before heading to the site of the operation.

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