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Faith Nyasuguta

In a shocking turn of events, Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie and 30 of his followers are set to undergo mental health evaluations before facing charges related to the murder of 191 children. 

The victims’ bodies were unearthed since last April from the Shakahola forest in southeastern Kenya, revealing a chilling tale of mass starvation orchestrated by the self-proclaimed pastor.

Mackenzie, who heads the Good News International Church, reportedly instructed his followers to starve themselves and their children to death. The twisted reasoning behind this heinous act was the belief that it would enable them to ascend to heaven before an impending apocalypse. 

Over months of exhumations across vast forested areas, authorities uncovered more than 400 bodies, making this one of the most horrific cult-related tragedies in recent history.

Prosecutors are preparing to charge a total of 95 individuals with offenses ranging from murder and manslaughter to terrorism and torture. Mackenzie, in custody since the gruesome discovery of bodies in the forest, has been cooperating with the investigation, according to his lawyer.

During a court hearing in Malindi, a coastal town in Kenya, a judge granted a prosecution request for mental health assessments of the 31 defendants. 

This evaluation is slated to occur before the group is formally charged, allowing for pleas to be entered in two weeks. The court session saw Mackenzie, donned in a white-and-blue-striped polo shirt, sitting alongside his fellow defendants with little expression.

The delay in bringing charges has been attributed to the challenging task of locating, exhuming, and autopsying a large number of human remains. Some cult members, emaciated and rescued from the forest, provided harrowing insights into Mackenzie’s sinister plans.

Last year, individuals familiar with the cult’s activities disclosed that Mackenzie had devised a three-phase plan for mass starvation. The first phase targeted children, followed by women and young men, with the final phase involving the remaining men. 


Cult members were forbidden from sending their children to school or seeking medical help when ill, as Mackenzie labeled such institutions as Satanic.

Mackenzie’s legal troubles extend beyond the cult-related charges. In December, he was convicted of producing and distributing films without a license, resulting in a 12-month jail sentence. 

The cult’s horrifying actions underscore the dangers posed by charismatic leaders exploiting vulnerable followers, shedding light on the broader issue of cults in Africa. 

These groups often manipulate individuals through psychological tactics, and authorities face the challenging task of dismantling such organizations and preventing further tragedies.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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