Kenya starvation cult death toll rises as more bodies found

Police and local residents load the exhumed bodies of victims of a religious cult into the back of a truck in the village of Shakahola, near the coastal city of Malindi, in southern Kenya Sunday, April 23, 2023. (AP Photo)

Police in Kenya have announced that the death toll in the Shakahola cult case had reached 179 after unearthing 29 more bodies.

Bodies were exhumed from 12 graves on land owned by the church leader pastor Paul Mackenzie.

Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha noted in a news conference on Friday that residents had come to register their relatives as missing.

A total of 609 people have so far been reported missing.

More bodies are still to be exhumed on Saturday in the vicinity of the cult's stronghold in Malindi.

Heavy rains had stalled the search and exhumation operation last week with the exercise resuming on Tuesday.

Meticulous process

The case has stunned Kenyans and led President William Ruto to set up a commission of inquiry into the deaths and a task force to review regulations governing religious bodies.

The meticulous process has shed light on the horrific extent of the tragedy that unfolded, where officials believe that victims were encouraged to starve themselves to meet Jesus.

Efforts to uncover the truth behind the cult's activities and the circumstances surrounding the deaths remain ongoing.

An investigation that started last month has revealed that some of the victims had their organs missing, which has led to suspicions of trafficking in human organs.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki described the deaths as a highly organised crime, saying the mass graves were many.


Source: TRT World