22 bodies exhumed at Makenzi's farm as death toll hits over 200

Homicide detectives at Shakahola farm in Kilifi. [ Marion Kithi, Standard]

Twenty-two bodies were exhumed on Saturday from the Shakahola farm in Kilifi, raising the number of suspected parishioners of Paul Makenzi’s Good News International (GNI) who died to 201.

Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said one of the mass graves contained 12 bodies of children. The children were aged between two and eight years old.

The second phase of the operation entered its fifth day on Saturday  The bodies were retrieved from Makenzi’s homestead dubbed Bethlehem. Onyancha said no one was rescued.

The ongoing rescue, recovery, and investigation at Shakahola forest seek to unravel the mystery behind the mass deaths.

Onyancha said the number of those rescued so far remains 72. She said one person believed to be Makenzi’s aide was arrested yesterday bringing the number of those in custody to 26.

“DNA samples have been collected from 93 families with 14 people who have been rescued and reunited with their families. Some 610 people have been reported missing so far,” the regional commissioner said.

She said the exhumation process has been put on hold until Tuesday next week. Onyancha said survivors were taken to different social support centres within Kilifi County.

Meanwhile, Makenzi and 17 suspected accomplices are still in custody and will be detained for 30 more days pending investigations. Shanzu Law Courts Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda on Wednesday said freeing them will hurt the probe.