Court revokes bond for Makenzi's wife, charges her with terrorism

Paul Mackenzie and his wife, Rhoda Maweu, at Shanzu Law Courts on May 10, 2023. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Shanzu Law Courts has revoked the bond for Paul Makenzi's wife after they were both charged with five counts of terrorism over the Shakahola massacre.

Makenzi, his wife Rhoda Maweu and their 93 associates were on Thursday charged with terrorism before Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido in Shanzu Law CourtS, Mombasa.

The magistrate revoked Maweu’s bond and ordered that she be detained at the Shimo La Tewa Women Prisons until the court rules on whether she can be released on bail.

Makenzi's wife was released on Sh100,000 bond in July last year after the state failed to link her to the deaths of 429 people in Shakahola forest.

She was arrested on May 2, 2023, at the height of the investigation into the activities of the cult blamed for the death of followers of Makenzi, but released after 65 days in detention.

"All accused persons be remanded in the respective GK prisons. Maweu, the 32 accused shall be remanded at Shimo la Tewa," directed Omido, after Maweu was charged alongside her husband.

Makenzi, his wife, and their 30 associates were charged with engaging in organized criminal activities and radicalisation.

The prosecution alleged that the accused endangered the lives of members and followers of Good News International (GNI) Ministries leading to the deaths of 429 people.

In the charge sheet, the prosecution claimed that GNI was an organized criminal group between 2020 and 2023 in Kwa Makenzi, Shakahola forest, Chakama, Kilifi county.

The prosecution claimed that the group promoted an extreme belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence of fasting to death by advancing religious change.

Equally, 62 of Makenzi's followers were charged with radicalization by adopting an extreme belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence.

But Makezi and his aide Smart Mwakalama, who the prosecution believed was the cult’s deputy leader, were charged with facilitating the commission of terrorism act.

The DPP claims that the two transported members and followers of the GNI Ministries from Malindi to Shakahola forest between the 2022 and 2023, thereby endangering their lives.

Makenzi and his wife were also charged separately with having an article including CDs, DVDs, books and pamphlets connected with an offense under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, that they used to allegedly instigate the commission of terrorism in the church.

The accused defense lawyer Wycliff Makasembo said they will apply for bond once they appear before Mombasa High Courts and Tononoka Children's Court.

"We will come to argue bond application once they have appeared at Mombasa High and Tononoka Children Court,” said Makasembo.

In another turn of events, the magistrate in Shanzu recused himself from the case, saying he was not best suited to handle the bail application having handled the same issue in miscellaneous application involving the same parties.

“In the miscellaneous 152, I handled with issues on whether they should be released on bail. Am not best suited to deal with the matter as some people may think the answer is out there. It will be fair that these matters be heard by another party," said Omido.

The prosecution led by senior state counsel Victor Mule, Peter Kiprop and Jami Yamina opposed the release of the accused on bond.

Mule said the accused will be facing more charges including manslaughter at Tononoka Children's Court and Mombasa High Court.

The state also applied to have Emmanuel Kilumo's fingerprints forcefully taken after he earlier declined.

On Wednesday, Makenzi and his followers were arraigned before Malindi Law Courts where they were directed to undergo a psychiatrist test before being charged with murder.