Kenyans struggle to comprehend starvation cult massacre as first bodies are finally released for burial

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The family members clutched each other and wailed as attendants pulled small bundles out of the funeral van. Remains so degraded that a handwritten card identified each victim of the cult.

“I did not believe to see my people the way they are. The condition is very bad,” Francis Wanje told CNN.

“It has been a very tough journey from last year to now. A very tough one. Fortunately, I am happy that I’ve gotten [my] loved ones,” he said, after receiving their bodies.

On Tuesday, Wanje became the first family member to retrieve the bodies of his relatives for burial after they became victims of a tragedy, dubbed the Shakahola massacre, that many Kenyans find hard to comprehend. In the days and weeks to come, authorities hope to release more bodies back to families.

Witnesses and prosecutors say that starting in 2019 and over a period of many months, charismatic pastor Paul Nthenge MacKenzie, a former taxi driver living in Malindi, lured hundreds of followers to the remote Shakahola forest to prepare for the end of the world.

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