Police in Kilifi County have arrested a 47-year-old pastor accused of directing his congregants to fast so that they can die before “the world ends soon”.
Authorities say two children have already been confirmed dead in Shakahola Village, Magarini Constituency.
The main suspect, Paul Makenzi, reportedly said his congregants needed to die before the end of the world so that they could ascend to heaven.
On Wednesday, March 22, police tracked him down to his church Good News International, where he was arrested, and is currently under investigation for murder.
Investigations have revealed that Makenzi asked his congregants in February 2023 to fast for 40 days and die before the disaster could strike.
According to police, the disaster claimed by the preacher was a “deadly disease that would wipe out all the children and adults”.
Makenzi reportedly asked the faithful to fast in the following sequence: children first, followed by women and finally men.
It was the same order that the congregants would die, Makenzi is alleged to have told the faithful.
Police said the suspect confessed to telling his congregants to fast and die in what he termed “peaceful death” ahead of the “painful phase of disease”.
Malindi Sub-County Police Commander John Kemboi told The Standard they have launched investigations to establish the total number of children who have already died as a result of starvation.
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Official records show that two children from Shakahola Village have already been confirmed dead, though residents claim there could be more.
Makenzi reportedly told police that he was “in constant communication with God”.
“God directed me to save mankind from the looming pain,” Makenzi allegedly told police officers at Malindi Police Station.
The area police boss Kemboi also puts the blame on parents who starved their children by acting on the preacher’s orders.
The parents of the deceased children will also be in the dock as suspects.
Joseph Yator, a Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officer in Malindi who is probing the matter, said they managed to rescue a 7-year-old boy, who was a victim of starvation.
A grandfather of two children who lost their lives in the faith-induced fasting said his daughter-in-law acted on Makenzi’s orders.
“My daughter-in-law, who attends Makenzi’s church, locked up her children in the house for several days. The minors eventually died of hunger complications,” said the elderly man.
“We buried one of my grandsons on Wednesday, March 15. The other one died on Friday, March 17,” he added.
The Malindi Court has now directed police to exhume bodies of children who are believed to have died as a result of starvation caused by observing pastor Paul Makenzi’s orders.
Postmortem will be conducted on the remains of the exhumed children to establish what exactly caused their deaths.
A government pathologist, the DCI officers in Malindi, Sub-County Police Commander and the OCS of Magarini will be parties in the autopsy, the court directed.