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Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has described the deaths in Shakahola as an ugly scar of the nation and warned that any public official found to have enabled the killings will be brought to account.

Prof Kindiki cast Pastor Paul Mackenzie, who through his church, the Goodnews International Ministries, is blamed for the deaths, as an evil man who operated a deadly criminal enterprise in the name of religion.

The teaching of the church was anchored on end times and demanded that its faithful fast to death if they want to meet Jesus Christ.

However, through this enterprise, Pastor Mackenize, who is in custody as investigations are carried out, had employed strong, vicious men and armed them with crude weapons to enforce the strict edict on fasting. 

“The role of the men was to supervise starvation. They would hand around families and ensured that the starvation in the name of fasting was strictly enforced,” said the Cabinet Secretary, when he appeared before a committee of the Senate that is probing the deaths.

“Those who changed their minds on fasting were bludgeoned to deaths, strangled to deaths with bare hands, wires or hit with blunt objects.” 

While the hapless victims were subjected to degrading treatment, the men were allowed to cook and eat and in some instances on the graveside to supervise the burials, said the CS.

He offered a public apology to the families and the nation over the deaths, admitting that in some cases there were security lapses that allowed the actions to fester, adding that international crimes had taken place besides crimes of national laws.

The state is investigating crimes related to kidnapping, money laundering, human trafficking, obtaining money through false pretence and organ harvesting.

He insisted that crimes on genocide, that fall within the realm international law, had been committed, and revealed that some people may face charges under the International Criminal Act of 2008

“We are investigating anything and everything. We are not ruling out anything.”

He announced in the next two weeks, the state will start disciplinary process against any public officer who might have contributed to the mess, leading to the killings.

“We shall interdict all officers whose action or inaction may have contributed to the deaths in Shakahola. We shall prosecute those who acts of omission or commission meet the threshold of prosecution,” said Prof Kindiki, adding that the government is determined to get to the bottom of the infamy that led to the deaths.

“WE are careful and cautious because we want to give those who are culpable a chance and carry out a lawful process.”

The Cabinet Secretary made the comments when he appeared before the Senate’s Adhoc Committee investigating the Proliferation of Religious on Friday, May 26, 2023.

“If the Shakahola saga will not change the way things work in Kenya, nothing will,” said the Cabinet secretary, likening the killings to September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked planes in the US and drove them into the buildings in New York and Washington DC killing thousands of people.

He also likened the Shakahola deaths to the 1994 Rwanda Genocide in which an estimated one million Rwandese citizens were killed.

Soon after the deaths were uncovered, the CS reshuffled top security and government administration officials from the Kilifi County in a move that many have argued was a scheme to bury the facts surrounding the infamy.

The chairman of the committee Danson Mungatana expressed concerns that the reshuffle was untimely and that it did little to instil confidence in a population that was traumatized by the events that led to the killings.

Senator Mungatana argued that the instead of transferring the officials, the state should have interdicted them as it amounted to transferring a problem from station to another.

“There was obvious case of dereliction of duty and these officials should have interdicted until they are absolved from culpability by investigations,” said senator Mungatana.

The cabinet secretary defended the reshuffles arguing that they were impartial and done in good faith so that those accused or suspected of having played a role in the mess are not part of the investigations.

“We are going to have radical changes in the security sector to ensure that dangerous criminals don’t behind the bible to kill, maim, torture, rape and expose others to degrading treatment,” said the CS.