Hundreds of Shakahola cult victims to be buried in marked graves

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Hundreds of victims of controversial preacher Paul Nthenge Mackenzie’s alleged cultic teachings could be buried within the Shakahola Forest following failure to positively identify their bodies through scientific means.

Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor on Tuesday hinted at the possibility of the unidentified bodies being interred within the forest in marked graves for easy identification in the event the DNA profiles of those bodies are generated.

Only 34 out of the 453 bodies of the ‘Fasting to death to see Jesus teachings’ have so far been positively identified and handed over to relatives for burial, leaving 419 bodies, whose process of identification is still going on.

Dr Oduor told journalists after presiding over the commencement of phase five of autopsies on bodies of the cult victims that most of the 453 bodies preserved at the Malindi Sub County Hospital morgue had not been positively identified using scientific means as their relatives had not come out to have their samples extracted for DNA matching.

He said six out of the 24 bodies retrieved during phase five of the exhumations were examined, but the causes of death could not be established due to the high level of decomposition.

“Some bodies particularly those of children had even turned to skeletons. In forensic medicine, the general principle is that if you try all your best to identify someone who is not known, the body is temporarily buried in a marked grave as we wait for the analysis to come so that if a profile is generated, we will be able to identify the grave and retrieve the body,” he said.

Dr Oduor, who was accompanied by the Homicide Director Martin Nyuguto, called on relatives of victims of the Shakahola killings to visit any nearby government chemist and have their DNA samples taken.

He at the same time urged those who had already given their samples to patiently wait for the profiles to be generated explaining that the process of extracting DNA is very complex.

“It is not like a test for malaria or typhoid whose results can be obtained within a day,” he added.

Dr Oduor said the Government had generated many DNA samples from the bodies and skeletons preserved at the morgue but was lacking reference samples from relatives.

He at the same time hinted at the termination of exhumations of the bodies of the victims of the controversial preacher as all the graves that had been identified had been dug out.

“What will happen now is that there will be a last survey which will be undertaken by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in the whole forest to ensure we do not leave any human remains in the place,” he said.

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