State faces 14-day deadline to charge Makenzi, 67 others

Paul Makenzi during his previous appearance before Shanzu Law Courts.[Robert Menza, Standard]

The Shanzu court has given the State 14 days to charge controversial and radical preacher Paul Makenzi and 67 of his staunch followers or they be released on bail.

 Yesterday, Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda declined to grant the State an additional six months to detain Makenzi who has been in custody since April last year.

  Shikanda said the prosecution had enough time to investigate the Shakahola massacre that left over 430 people dead through starvation.

 “In view of the foregoing, I make the following orders; the state is hereby allowed to hold the respondents in custody for a further period of 14 days from today, to pave the way for any processing if a decision to charge is made. If no decision to charge the respondents will have been made after the expiry of such period, the court will consider releasing the respondents from custody on terms that will be determined by the court,” said Shikanda.

 Makenzi is being investigated for mass murder, radicalization, and terrorism among other crimes, and has been accused of influencing his followers to starve to death to go to heaven.

 The magistrate said Makenzi’s case is the longest pre-charge detention in the history of the country following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

 He said the respondents have been in custody for a period of 117 days since the instant application was filed.

 “In my view, that is sufficient time within which the pending investigations ought to have been completed. The application appears to have been determined by the passage of time. For that reason, I do not think it will be necessary for the court to engage in an academic exercise of determining the merits or demerits of the application,” said Shikanda.

 He said the application was filed on October 18, 2023, and was not heard immediately because of intervening factors and the ruling also had to be delayed because of excusable circumstances.

 The magistrate said the respondents have been in custody for over three months since the application for an extension of custodial orders was filed.

 “It has been a long journey that must come to an end, at least for this phase. However, I am aware of the fact that in the event the State decides to charge the respondents, it would require time and facilities to process the charges and eventually present the respondents in court. This is owing to the number of respondents and the possible charges that they may face. This processing can only be properly done while the respondents are in custody,” said Shikanda.

 He directed the matter to be mentioned on January 23, 2024, for further orders.

 “For the avoidance of doubt, this ruling shall apply to Misc. Criminal application No. E077 of 2023, Misc. Criminal application No. E101 of 2023 and Misc. Criminal Application No. E130 of 2023," said Shikanda.

 In November last year, Makenzi was sentenced to one year in prison by a Malindi court for operating a television station without a license from the Kenya Film Classification Board.

Senior Resident Magistrate Olga Onalo found Makenzi guilty of conducting an exhibition of films to the public through Times Television without the approval of the Kenya Film Classification Board.

 Makenzi was however acquitted of the offense of inciting children against attending school and further using the films to incite Christians against Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims against their religion.