Shakahola: Twelve more bodies exhumed, number of dead rises to 110

Kenya Red Cross workers assist a woman rescued from Paul Makenzi's compound in Kilifi County. [Marion Kith, Standard]

The death toll in the Shakahola Farm massacre rose to 110  on Thursday after detectives retrieved 12 more bodies from Paul Makenzi's compound in Kilifi County.

This brings the number of bodies dug up from the pastor's compound to 20. Incidentally, they are all children.

"We fear that most of the bodies buried in the homestead are children," said a forensic investigator who sought anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press. 

On Thursday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's wife, Dorcas, described Makenzi as a criminal. Speaking in Nairobi during a feeding programme for widows, Dorcas said criminals and terrorists should be dealt with in accordance with the Constitution. 

“If Paul Makenzi is a criminal, he should be treated as an individual. Even his family should not be part of his crime. Paul Makenzi is not the church. In fact, he has said he is not a pastor, but he is Mr Paul," she said. 

She warned against blanket condemnation of the church and other religious organisations, saying rogue leaders should bear the responsibility for their actions.

Meanwhile, church leaders at the Coast on Thursday pleaded with the government to allow different religions to continue self-regulating.

The leaders under the Mombasa Pastors Fellowship, however, said that churches should be compelled to operate under bodies that offer oversight.

The bishops from Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Taita Taveta also called for establishment of Christian courts where rogue church leaders can be prosecuted and their radical teachings stopped.

Praise Chapel Presiding Bishop Tee Nalo said the Shakahola deaths happened because the security agencies did not act in good time.

“What happened in Shakahola is an isolated case. All churches should operate under umbrella bodies to enforce self-relation. Makenzi operated in isolation and his church was not under an umbrella body. He was not in fellowship with other churches,” he said.

Bishop Nalo said the government should have acted when Makenzi preached against children going to school and asked followers to burn their school certificates. “If the security officers failed to enforce the law when Makenzi started his radical teachings outside the scriptures, what guarantee is there that they will enforce the law if the government regulates religious organisations?” he posed.

Deputy Patron of the Kwale House of Bishops Alphas Ngoda said Makenzi was able to radicalise his members because he lacked a spiritual leader and was a lone ranger.

Taita Taveta House of Bishops leader Meshack Nyangala urged Christians to stop following preachers blindly to avoid radicalisation.