Probe Into Kenya Cult Leader Points To ‘Failings’ In Justice System

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An inquiry into a suspected cult leader accused of inciting at least 428 of his followers to starve themselves to death, has pointed to “failures” in Kenya’s security and criminal justice systems, according to a report seen by AFP on Saturday.

Self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie has been in police custody since mid-April after the discovery of human remains in the Shakahola forest near the Indian Ocean coast.

The former taxi driver and founder of the Good News International Church is accused of preaching to his followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus”.

While starvation appears to be the main cause of death, some of the victims — including children — were strangled, beaten or suffocated, according to autopsies carried out by the government.

“Kenya has experienced deaths linked to religious extremism in the past, however, the Shakahola tragedy has registered the highest number of fatalities in Kenya’s recorded history,” the Senate commission of inquiry said in its report.

It added that the self-proclaimed pastor had faced charges back in 2017 for his extreme preaching, but “the criminal justice system failed to deter the heinous activities of Paul Mackenzie in Shakahola”.

Mackenzie was acquitted on charges of radicalisation in 2017 for illegally providing school teaching — he rejected the formal educational system which he claimed was not in line with the Bible.

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