Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has described the Shakahola massacre, where over 360 people are confirmed to have died after fasting, as Kenya’s worst security breach.
His admission comes after the team in Kilifi retrieved ten more bodies as the death toll hit 360 and discovery of 40 new mass graves, yesterday.
Facing the Senate Ad Hoc Committee investigating proliferation of religious organisations and the deaths in Shakahola forest yesterday, Prof Kindiki apologised to Kenyans and said all government agencies and local society should ask themselves how Pastor Paul Makenzi and others were allowed to get away with mass murders.
“I would like to acknowledge there were lapses among our security and judicial officers that gave room to Paul Makenzi to find room to conduct the shocking activities in Shakahola forest without being discovered until March this year. The government will not allow that to happen again,” he told the House team.
He said all government officers who served in Kilifi when controversial Pastor Makenzi was active in Shakahola, will face disciplinary and legal action.
The CS told the committee led by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana that it would be of no great use to have the individual officers who were transferred appearing before the committee and that he was perfectly placed to represent them to articulate government position.
“Any government officer through action or inaction, commission or non-commission who contributed to the happenings at Shakahola where we have hundreds of people dying, will be held to account whether they are still in service or not since they have something to tell Kenyans,” said Kindiki.
He said all criminals hiding behind religion will be stopped at all costs giving the example of Makenzi who had a well-structured programme designed to ensure that as many people as possible died before his activities came to the limelight early this year.
He said it was a matter of concern that Makenzi had been arrested, taken to court and released three times before his evil activities in Shakahola came to the limelight.
“Makenzi faced four charges among them radicalisation which is a heinous crime before he was released on plea bargaining. The judicial officers should have had punitive measures for the accused person to prevent what would later turn out to be a genocide of international proportion,” said Kindiki.
And in Kilifi, investigators retrieved the ten bodies from six graves as 40 new mass graves were discovered in the vast Shakahola forest after exhumation resumed on Monday.
Detectives said the fourth phase has been marred with hurdles considering that the graves identified are far apart.
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Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha said the exhumation will take some time compared to previous times. “The security team remained in Shakahola despite our colleagues conducting the autopsy. We have been doing patrols and assisting the homicide detectives in scanning the forest, and we have identified a number of graves,” she said.
So far, 95 people have been rescued and 37 arrested, according to Ms Onyancha, who added that the number of DNA samples collected from families searching for their loved ones has increased to 253. Those that have identified their rescued relatives are at 20.
“The tracing desk is quiet, and the number of those who have reported missing relatives is still at 613,” she said.