Cult or church: Four people fast until death in Kenya 

Police question one of the rescued men found starved at Shakahola village in Kilifi County at the Malindi Referral Hospital on April 13, 2023.

Photo credit: Alex Kalama I Nation Mdia Group

What you need to know:

  • The deceased, three men and a woman, were reportedly followers of the controversial Good News International Church of Pastor Paul Mackenzie.

Four people died of suspected starvation while 10 others were rescued on Thursday night after police raided a house in Shakahola village, Kilifi County in Kenya.

The deceased, three men and a woman, were reportedly followers of the controversial Good News International Church of Pastor Paul Mackenzie.

Police had received a tip-off from the public about the alleged 'prayer session' and planned the raid for the following day.

"We found them in a very bad state, others fainted on the way to hospital. We can confirm that four of them died while others are being treated at Malindi Referral Hospital," said a security source involved in the operation.

A police report corroborated this information, saying: "We have received reports of ignorant citizens starving to death under the pretext of meeting Jesus after being brainwashed by a suspect, Makenzie Nthenge, a pastor of Good News International Church.

The fingerprints of the dead were taken for identification as most of them had no identification documents and no mobile phones.

Police have identified those hospitalised in critical condition as Allan Obiero (17), Wycliffe Waimoi (43), Mercy Aoko (35) from Kisumu, Paul Karisa from Kilifi and Jane Nyambura (38) and Alfred Shitemi (32) from Vihiga.

There's also Felix Wandera (37) from Busia, David Abuhaya (49) from Vihiga, Collins Kabaye (22) from Busia, Monica Masika (36) from Kakamega and an unknown adult female.

Earlier this month, more than 10 people from Shakahola and Msimba villages in Kilifi were seriously injured after neighbours attacked them for being followers of the controversial church.

Meanwhile, the bodies of two children allegedly starved to death by their parents have yet to be exhumed, two weeks after a Malindi court ordered it.

The delay has been caused by the absence of a government pathologist.

Investigations suggest that it was at his home that 'Pastor' Mackenzie shaped the beliefs of his followers, some of whom are now being investigated for alleged horrific crimes - including starving and killing their children and later burying them in shallow graves.

The state accuses Mackenzie of manipulating locals through distorted, extreme religious teachings and fear of the unknown in the pursuit of salvation, leading to the deaths of many.

In an earlier interview, Pastor Mackenzie said he believed he had spiritual prophetic powers and claimed to have seen apparitions of 'Jesus'.

The father of seven claimed this was the basic tenet of his brand of Christianity, but said he had stopped preaching in 2019.

He was released on a Sh10,000 police bond in the case of two children suspected of being starved to death by their parents.