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Kindiki says Makenzi hired goons to kill followers plotting to escape

 Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki. The CS revealed that the government had identified 10 more mass graves in the 800-acre land. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Friday said Paul Makenzi hired criminals armed with crude weapons to kill followers who took longer to die and those who changed their minds about fasting and wanted out.

Prof Kindiki said grave diggers built temporary structures next to the graves of the victims where they had food as they watched the followers starve to death.

“Most of the victims died of starvation while others were strangled using wires. There were also those that were bludgeoned to death using blunt objects. The post-mortem revealed that some also had cracked skulls and ribs,” he said.

Speaking before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the Shakahola deaths, the CS revealed that the government had identified 10 more mass graves in the 800-acre land.

And in what Kindiki believes was a well-organized and deliberate scheme by Makenzi to commit genocide, he said his team was gathering evidence to prove this and charge him under International Crimes Act.

“I am against rushed prosecutions where there isn’t enough evidence to bring justice to the families of the victims. I am building a broader but water-tight case which might take up to a year to gather evidence and I urge patience from Kenyans. What we are doing with this case is to make sure we make a statement to deter such occurrences in the future,” he said.

The committee also heard that investigative authorities were probing sexual offences against minors, organ harvesting, and forced starvation.

The CS accused the Judiciary and the national security organs of complacency and turning a blind eye to the goings at Shakahola.

Kindiki said that since 2017, Makenzi had been arrested four times with the latest being in March, in relation to his cult operations but each time, he was let go with just a slap on the wrist.

An application for custodial orders against the controversial pastor by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions- which was never granted by the Judiciary also irked the CS.

“The Judiciary should answer to the people of Kenya what it was doing during the unfolding of the Shakahola massacre. Whenever Makenzi was arrested, he was released on cash bail. What is more saddening is the fact that the majority of the bodies we have exhumed were buried 26 days before we found them and most died after the month of March,” he said.

Kindiki has promised a shake-up of the national security saying any public officer whose action or inaction aided the progression of the cult would also have a date with destiny.

“I must admit that as security organs of this country, we failed. With the sophistication of our security organs, we should have been able to stop the scale of the offence. Accountability will not spare any institution including the National Intelligence Service,” he said.

“I want to tender an unqualified apology on behalf of myself and the people I work with because the matter started many years ago but we only just detected it recently,” he added. So far, 241 bodies have been exhumed and 91 people rescued. Of these, 19 have been reunited with their families.

The Danson Mungatana-led Ad hoc committee vowed to get to the bottom of the Shakahola deaths. “We are not ruling out any possibility in terms of the Shakahola grounds being used for extra-judicial killings. Some of the skeletons stumbled upon by our team were older,” he said.

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