A two-month-old baby among Shakahola cult victims

Officials arrange bodies after they were recovered in Shakahola forest on May 15, 2023. [File, Standard]

A two-month-old baby is among those who died in the Shakahola massacre linked to controversial pastor Paul Makenzi, according to autopsies conducted on 36 bodies on Monday.

Of the bodies, 17 were females while the gender of one could not be identified to the advanced level of compassion.

The victims are believed to be followers of the Good News International Church Makenzi who is accused of luring worshippers into starving to death claiming that they will be able to go to heaven before the end of the world.

Chief government pathologist Johansen Oduor said: "We found an infant of about two months old among the victims. The brain was not developed," said Dr Oduor.

There was also a one-year-old toddler among the victims, according to Oduor. "He had blunt trauma on the legs while another kid had features of strangulation."

He further said the degree of decomposition of some of the bodies has limited many aspects of the post-mortem.

Another victim who died while receiving treatment at the Malindi sub-county hospital is said to have had underlying health conditions.

"The patient had tuberculosis," Oduor said.

Salama Masha, who escaped from the Shakahola forest in March to save her five children, said she gave birth to her last-born daughter alone inside the forest.

"I gave birth alone. We were not allowed to get help," She said.

Last month, an autopsy revealed a body of a middle-aged woman who died hours after delivery.

Salama claimed Makenzi ordered pregnant women to leave their babies to die after delivery.

"We would take a cane and beat the children so they can go to heaven and not backslide. We were told they would go and eat in heaven. So as a parent, you would have cooked and eaten, but the child will be locked somewhere. I thought about it and felt I couldn't continue with the situation," she said.

On Monday, a body of a female victim was recovered from the forest, bringing the death toll to 242.

"One male adult was rescued bringing the total number of those saved to 93," said Rhoda Onyancha, the coast regional commissioner.