Shakahola death toll rises to 450 as two more bodies exhumed

Detectives exhume bodies at Shakahola forest, Kilifi County, on June 3, 2024. [Marion Kithi, Standard]

The Shakahola massacre death toll has risen to 450 after two more bodies were exhumed by detectives and forensic experts from the DCI Homicide unit on Wednesday.

The skeletal remains were discovered in graves at Kwa Mugambi, located South of pastor Paul Makenzi's homestead in Shakahola forest, Kilifi County.

On Monday, detectives discovered three more mass graves in the expansive forest.

Chief Government pathologist Johansen Oduor said 50 mass graves have been identified in the fifth phase of exhumation which detectives say could be the last. 

The graves are located using the global positioning system (GPS).

Last week, a group of human rights activists expressed concern over families that are struggling to identify their kin who were followers of Makenzi.

Victor Kaudo, an advocate of human rights, asked the government to stop the exhumation and instead update the results of DNA samples of more than 600 people taken over a year ago.

Jessica Konde is among families yet to identify their kin, a year after they gave their DNA samples. Only 34 DNA results were released.

"I lost eight of my family members but one was positively identified," she said.

Recently, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said that the unclaimed bodies will be buried in Shakahola.

Prof Kindiki announced that the state has compulsory possession of 4,000 acres of the Chakama ranch.

"This land will serve as the final resting place for victims who will not be claimed by their close family members," he said.