CS Kindiki: Government to convert Shakahola forest into memorial site

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, addressing the press on May 31, 2023, at his Harambee House office in Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Interior CS Professor Kithure Kindiki has said that the government is seeking to convert the Shakahola forest into a memorial site.

This, Kindiki said is in honour of victims of the Shakahola massacre whose mastermind is suspected to be controversial pastor Paul Makenzi.

He said that the government was in talks with locals and families of the deceased over the conversion.

This comes after the recovery of nine more bodies from some of the 22 sites that have since been identified and marked as potential mass graves in phase three of the process. This raises the death toll to 252.

According to Kindiki, the implementation will begin after the conclusion of ongoing search, rescue operation and recovery of bodies is concluded.

“This is not a place that can be reverted to farming, ranching and other human activities because the souls of our brothers and sisters, adults and children, that we’ve lost here require much more dignity than that,” said Kindiki.

“The memorial site will ensure that “Kenya and the world never forget that there was this kind of outrage on humanity.”

The CS said that the process will put into consideration the decision that will be made by the Judiciary during the trial of Makenzi and his accomplices.

This move Kindiki said will give families, friends, and residents a sense of closure owing to the nature and magnitude of the massacre.

“What has happened here is not a small matter…neither for Kenya nor for humanity all over the world. And for that reason, this scene of crime, where this most horrendous criminal work has been carried out can never be reverted to normal, ordinary human activity,” said Kindiki.

The government is also organizing a prayer meeting in the forest to mourn the victims of the massacre.

“There will be a commemoration service presided over by men and women of faith from various religions so that we can also be able to rescue the damage that some people would want to visit on the different religions we have in this country,” he said.

“So that we can redeem the sacred right and freedom of worship in our Constitution, which has been threatened and defiled by crooks and criminals and thugs who have been hiding behind scriptures of different religions to commit a crime.”

Kindiki was speaking at the forest during the commissioning of the construction of security roads within Chakama Ranch to allow the rescue teams to venture deep into the forest in search of more survivors and bodies.

The 50,000-acre ranch has been inaccessible to detectives who are yet to conclude the exhumation and recovery of bodies buried within the Shakahola section.

Kindiki who was accompanied by Interior PS Dr Raymond Omollo and the DCI boss Mohamed Amin, said that a government surveyor has mapped out the terrain and marked key landmarks, trails, and potential search areas to help the search and rescue teams navigate the forest more methodically.

The CS also visited the recovery teams who embarked on the third phase of the exhumation exercise.

“I want to assure the people of Kenya that we have a case and it’s just a matter of time before Makenzi and his collaborators face their destiny. We have enough evidence to pin him and his collaborators to the most egregious and most horrible crimes against the human race,” said Kindiki.