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Kenyan Cult Leader To Be Charged With 191 Murders

In Kenya’s High Court on January 17, Paul Mackenzie and over 30 of his followers stood in front of a Judge, and were ordered to get mental health assessments before being charged with the murders of 191 children. This comes after 429 bodies were found on the same site where the Good News International Church (GNIC) is located in the Shakahola Forest, Kilifi in April 2023. 


Mackenzie’s church has been named as a Doomsday Cult, and the number of deaths caused by the church has been deemed the “worst cult-related tragedy in history”. Most of the deaths are said to be a result of starvation, since Mackenzie told his followers to starve themselves to death in order to meet Jesus Christ. 


GNIC was founded by Paul Mackenzie, an ex taxi driver, and his first wife in 2003. The cult is extremely anti-Western, condemning education, medicine, the United Nations, the Catholic Church, the United States and other parts of Western culture. The church uses ‘American Prophet’ William Branham’s End-Time messages.


The dead bodies were discovered after police rescued 15 emaciated members of GNIC, unfortunately, four of those died on the way to the hospital. Shortly after, exhumations of the land where the church is located took place. After searching through 800 acres, 429 bodies were recovered, with most of them being children. The bodies were found in shallow graves, and 95 people in total are set to be charged with cruelty, murder, terrorism and torture. 


Paul Mackenzie has denied the charges, but he is currently serving a 12-month sentence in prison for illegally operating a film studio that produced his preachings. He was also arrested in 2017 and 2019 in relation to his cult. 180 of the 191 children’s bodies have been identified. Of the nearly 500 corpses found in total, autopsy reports that some of them died from suffocation and/or strangulation.


GNIC was officially deregistered in August, shortly after the bodies were found on the site. Members of the cult consisted mostly of Kenyans but people from other countries in Africa like Uganda and Tanzania were also a part of GNIC. 


Shortly after the initial exhumations were carried out, some of the dead bodies were missing organs, which were believed to have been harvested and sold, but this claim was later revoked  by officials after autopsies were carried out. Mackenzie’s representatives have said he would appeal the court hearings when they resume on February 6.


 


Edited by Chloe Mansola


ImageRural Landscape in Kenya’ by Andrew Wu, World Resources Institute licenced by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


 


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