We have opened a formal investigation into another religious cult in the region and we are getting indications that this may be just the tip of the iceberg,” Kenya’s home minister said. In the town of Malindi, the death toll of the movement known as the International Church of Good News has already risen to 90, but authorities say the number could be much higher.
In the Shakahola forest in the Kenyan town of Malindi, 17 more bodies were dug up on Tuesday, bringing the total number of bodies found to 90. All of the dead were members of the Good News International Church, a local Christian religious movement described by the media as a controversial cult or sect. His pastor, Paul Mackenzie, allegedly urged his followers to starve themselves to death in order to “encounter Jesus.” He buried the dead in shallow graves on his property.
Starving yourself to death
In addition to the dead, there are also people found alive who have undergone a hunger strike. In total, 34 starved people have already been found, some of them, despite the help provided, could not be saved. “We pray that God will help them through the trauma, recover and tell how one Kenyan, another man, once decided to hurt so many people, heartlessly, hiding behind the Holy Scriptures,” said the interior minister Kenya Kithure Kindiki, who visited the excavation site on Tuesday. He announced that the services would “increase the scale of search and rescue missions to save as many lives as possible.” He also emphasized that the entire area of the property, covering 320 hectares, was declared a crime scene and operational zone.
At the same time, the minister admitted that there are fears that the death toll of this religious cult may still increase. This is indicated by the latest Kenya Red Cross data, according to which 259 cases of disappearances have already been reported. – The number of family members who reported missing increased from 210 in the morning to 259 in the afternoon (Tuesday – ed.). Of these 259 people, 130 are children, Hassan Musa of the organization told CNN.
Minister Kindiki noted that the tragic discovery in Malindi will be a turning point in the country’s handling of religious extremism and authorities are already looking at another religious cult in the area. “We’ve opened a formal investigation into this religious group and we’re getting key clues that perhaps this[the discovery of another dangerous cult]is just the tip of the iceberg,” he admitted.
Bodies being dug up in Kenya
The first seven bodies in Malindi were found on April 21. The cult’s leader, Pastor Paul Mackenzie, was arrested in early April after authorities received a report from Haki Africa. At that time, 15 starved people were found in his estate. Four of the followers died before they could be taken to the hospital.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/STR