Makenzi charged with child abuse and torture

Controversial pastor Paul Makenzi and several parents were yesterday charged with child abuse and neglect yesterday.

They were also accused of withdrawing children from school to join the cult behind the death of 429 people in Shakahola forest, Kilifi County. 

Makenzi and his 38 associates faced 17 counts of child abuse, torture, assault and causing bodily harm, cruelty to a child and infringing a child’s right to education. 

Makenzi and a couple, Felix Katana and Frida Katana, illegally, wilfully and intentionally withdrew a 16-year-old child (WUK) from Mtopanga Secondary School and failed to ensure the child attended school regularly, the court heard.

Makenzi and his co-accused were arraigned at Tononoka Children’s Court, where they denied the charges before Principal Magistrate Nelly Chepchirchir. 

The Good News International (GNI) ministries preacher and 95 of his followers have also been charged with terrorism, radicalization in addition to 238 charges of manslaughter and murder. 

It is alleged that on diverse dates between 2020 and 2023 in Shakahola forest, Kilifi County, they wilfully subjected male children aged eight and 14 years to torture by slapping and beating them with sticks on their legs, occasioning them harm. 

They are accused of wilfully and intentionally ill-treating eight children aged 13, 14, 16 and 17 years by denying them food, thereby causing them unnecessary suffering and injury to their health. 

The suspects face a charge of withdrawing a child, JNK, from Timboni Sawasawa Academy and failing to ensure the child attended school regularly as a pupil.

It also alleged that on unknown dates in 2019, Makenzi and co-accused wilfully and intentionally withdrew EWO, a child aged 13, from Inavi Primary School and failed to ensure the child attended school.

Makenzi and Agnes Shihale are accused of withdrawing a child, CAA aged 16, from Mtopanga Secondary and failing to ensure the child attended school.

Makenzi and Catherine Wanjiru were charged with wilfully and intentionally withdrawing GN, a child aged 14, from Ufunuo Elim Mishomoroni Academy in 2020.

Yesterday, state prosecutors Victor Mule, Peter Kiprop, Jamii Yamina and Victor Owiti opposed the release of the accused on bond.

“We will be opposing bond for all the 39 accused,” said Mule. 

Owiti said the prosecution will provide the accused with all the witness statements except the police cover report that had been requested by Makenzi’s layer Wycliffe Makasembo. 

“We shall give all documents except the covering report,” said Owiti.

Chepchirchir directed the prosecution to supply all the relevant documents to the defence counsel before February 15, when the bond application hearing will be expected.

Makasembo sought an adjournment to seek instructions from his clients and prepare adequately for bond application. 

“I am not ready to proceed with the bond application hearing. I need time to consult with the clients. We seek for covering report, medical and all other documents,” said Makasembo.