Kenyan justice will prosecute, in particular for terrorism and murder, the self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, detained since April in the investigation into the death of 429 followers of his evangelical sect, as well as 94 other people, the prosecutor announced Tuesday January 16 . “After a thorough analysis of the evidence, the Director of Public Prosecutions is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute 95 suspects,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The “Shakahola massacre”, named after a forest in Kenya where an evangelical sect met, shook this very religious country in East Africa.

Last week, a court gave the authorities fourteen days to bring charges against Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, under penalty of releasing him. His detention had been extended several times to allow searches for victims in the Shakahola forest (south-east), where his “International Church of Good News” met, to whom he preached to fast until death for “ meet Jesus” before the end of the world, in August 2023.

Paul Nthenge Mackenzie and his co-accused will face ten charges, including murder, manslaughter and terrorism. It was not specified when the 95 suspects will be presented in court, but the justice system wants, according to the press release, “to initiate proceedings as soon as possible”.

Strangled victims

A taxi driver before proclaiming himself a pastor, Paul Nthenge Mackenzie has been in detention since April 14, the day after the discovery of the first victims in the Shakahola forest. Since then, 429 bodies have been found in this area of ​​the Kenyan coast. Autopsies carried out revealed that the majority of victims died of starvation, probably after following the preaching of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie. Some, including children, were strangled, beaten or suffocated.

Sixteen people are accused of having been part of a group of the pastor’s “henchmen”, responsible for ensuring that no follower broke the fast or escaped from the forest.

The authorities were strongly criticized for not having prevented the actions of Pastor Mackenzie, arrested several times for his extreme preaching. In March, he was released on bail, despite charges against him, after the death of two children, who died of starvation in the care of their parents linked to the sect. In a report published in October, a Senate commission pointed to “failings” in the justice system and the police.