Shakahola cult leader Paul Makenzi detained for 30 more days

Shakahola murder suspects pastor Paul Makenzi at Shanzu law court. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Kilifi controversial pastor Paul Makenzi and his 28 followers will be detained for one more month pending their investigations and probation inquiry.

The 29 of them were to know their verdict today, September 18, regarding the Shakahola massacre that led to the loss of more than 400 lives.

Makenzi was first arrested on April 15, 2023, for allegedly telling his followers to starve themselves to death in order to ‘get to heaven faster’.

The cult leader was accused of using religion to brainwash members of his congregation, some of whom denounced education and getting health aid from hospitals.

Since his arrest, more than 429 bodies of men, women, children and babies have been exhumed from the Shakahola Forest mass graves.

Makenzi has spent about five months in custody without being charged, while his colleagues were arrested between May and June 2023.

On Wednesday last week, a group of the controversial preacher's followers were detained for 30 more days in order to allow the probation officer to complete his report.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the respondents shall remain in custody. I have listened to both sides, and the probation report is a reason enough to warrant the court to extend the days,” said Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda.

According to the magistrate, the probation report was not an investigation into the Shakahola incident but an interview that would assist the court in deciding on bail.

They are facing at least 12 charges, including murder, terrorism, aiding people to commit suicide, crimes against the public, kidnapping, extremism, genocide, cruelty against children, fraud and money laundering.