Makenzi, 93 associates deny 238 charges of manslaughter

Controversial pastor Paul Makenzi, his wife and 93 associates have denied 238 charges of manslaughter.

Makenzi and his wife, Rhoda Maweu, and 93 associates were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Alex Ithuku on Tuesday, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges of manslaughter.

The plea taking took over six hours as the 238 charges of manslaughter were read to the 95 accused linked to the Shakahola massacre that left over 429 people dead.

The prosecution applied to have the 95 accused take plea in unison as opposed to individually.

State prosecution led by Peter Kiprop, Jamii Yamina, Victor Owiti, Hillary Isiaho, and Alex Gituma said it would take four days to read the charges to each individual.

“We have observed it has taken about 10 minutes to read all the 95 names. It will take four days to read all the charges to the accused. We are accordingly asking the court to proceed to ask the suspect, who pleads guilty to the charges. There will be no prejudice suffered to those who plead not guilty,” said Owiti.

Makenzi, the wife and 93 associates were charged that on diverse dates between January 2021 and August 2023 in the Kwa Makenzi area of Shakahola Forest in Chakama, Kilifi county, they allegedly caused the death of 238 people, among them children and unidentified persons.

On Monday, Makenzi, Maweu and 93 others were charged with terrorism charges and radicalization at Shanzu Law Courts.

Makenzi is also expected to appear before Tononoka Children’s Court, to face charges, including child trafficking, torture and neglect.

He has been accused of allegedly endangering the lives of his followers by leading them to fast to their death to meet Jesus, thereby leading to the death of 429 members and followers of Good News International (GNI) Ministries.

The state has claimed that GNI was an organized criminal group between 2020 and 2023 in the Kwa Makenzi area of Shakahola Forest in Chakama, Kilifi county.

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

Makenzi was arrested in April last year and detained with 30 associates after it emerged his followers were fasting to death to go to heaven.

Some 65 followers who were rescued from Shakahola in deplorable health declined to testify against the controversial pastor and have since been charged alongside Makenzi.

By 5pm, the court was still reading the charges to the 95 suspects.