Makenzi, followers detained over hunger strike as 15 more bodies retrieved

Some of the Shakahola massacre survivors at the Shanzu Law Courts where they were charged with attempted suicide. [Joackim Bwana, Standard]

Controversial pastor, Paul Makenzi, and his followers will be detained at Malindi Prison after starving themselves for 10 days at various police stations where they were being held.

One of Makenzi's followers, Fredrick Karimi, on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, collapsed at Shanzu Law Courts after going on a hunger strike for 10 days, with six other emaciated followers unable to walk to the dock.

In Shakahola, detectives conducting exhumations retrieved 15 bodies from shallow graves - bringing the number of the dead to 318 - and arrested a suspect.

Pastor Makenzi’s lawyers also withdrew from the case citing frustrations from the state in accessing their clients.

Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda ordered that the suspects be detained at Malindi prisons pending further directions on June 21.

In the incident, the emaciated man fell to the floor as he was being escorted to the dock for the court’s ruling on whether they should be released on bail pending the completion of investigations into their involvement in Shakahola massacre.

Makenzi and his followers are facing possible charges of murder, and aiding persons to commit suicide, abduction and radicalisation, among other offences.

Meanwhile, 65 rescued victims from Shakahola were detained at Shimo La Tewa prison after they refused to eat at the rescue centre where they were being held.

Shakahola murder suspect Paul Makenzi at Shanzu Law Courts on June 2, 2023. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

Last week, Makenzi and 16 of his followers started a hunger strike to protest at Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki’s remarks that he would ensure the pastor rots in jail.

Makenzi had sought assurance from the Chief Justice that he would get justice from the courts.

On Monday, Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Jami Yemina told the court the survivors had resorted to a hunger strike at the Sahajanad Rescue Centre, where they were undergoing counselling.

Lawyer Yemina applied to have the suspects held at Shimo La Tewa where they can be fed by the prison’s medical officers, who have the mandate to administer forcible feeding pending a mental health assessment report.

The prosecutor said that Section 29 of the Prisons Act allows the state to undertake forcible feeding of persons within the prison and that some victims risked death in the absence of urgent intervention.

“They need to be held in a safe place where they can be forcibly fed without breaching their rights,” said Yemina.

In a different court, lawyers George Kariuki, Elisha Komora and Wycliffe Makasembo complained that they had been denied access to their clients. 

Komora and Kariuki withdrew their services citing frustrations from taking instructions from their clients.