Heads should roll over Shakahola massacre

By Editorial | May 29, 2023
Homicide detectives collect some of the bodies that were retrieved from shallow graves within Shakahola forest in Kilifi County. [Marion Kithi, Standard]

The President last month apologised over the Shakohola massacre. He said: “As the President, Shakahola should not have happened. For that I truly say I’m sorry.”

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has too apologised. “We failed as organs of national security. The tragedy at Shakahola forest should have been detected and averted. I tender an unqualified apology to the people of Kenya on behalf of the security sector, past and present,” he said.

Apologies are in order, but they are not enough. For it is implausible that more than 240 people were convinced to starve themselves to death or were bludgeoned to death or whatever else could have caused their painful demise, without the knowledge of our omnipresent government.

It is hard to believe that these people were lured to Shakahola from all parts of the country and convinced to sell their earthly properties before being driven to their graves without the slightest knowledge of the government.

Indeed, there were complaints that police were privy to the murky goings-ons in Shakahola but failed to act even after several complaints were lodged against cult leader Paul Mackenzie. The complaints prompted the Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome to direct the Internal Affairs Unit to launch investigations. The progress of these investigations is yet to be made public. Senior police commanders and officers in Kilifi were also transferred after the deaths were revealed.

We urge the government to seriously investigate what local administrators, police and intelligence officers, nyumba kumi members, among others, knew about the tragedy in Shakahola.

It is incredible that so many lives were lost without the knowledge of those who are paid to arrest such criminal activities.

It will not be enough to punish the alleged masterminds of Shakahola and leave out those who abetted the crime by sleeping on the job or looking the other as the horror unfolded. They must be punished too.

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