Shakahola: Senate Committee visits mass graves, makes recommendation

May 22, 2023

The Senate Committee investigating the Shakahola massacre has urged the government to deploy more search and rescue personnel to expedite the ongoing rescue operation in the Shakahola forest, where 235 bodies have been unearthed thus far.

Led by Tana river Senator Danson Mungatana, the Committee characterized the scene as horrifying and an act of genocide.

Following their visit to the site and a brief meeting with the security team overseeing the rescue and exhumation efforts, Senator Mungatana addressed the press, stating that the committee is fully committed to uncovering the truth of the matter and informing the Kenyan public about the actual events that took place.

“These are not statistics we have come face to face with the depth of our people who died here, we have come face to face with the skeletons of people who were found here, we have come face to face with the ugly side of radicalization and the misuse of religion,” he said.

Mungatana said they will visit various locations across the country where Pastor Paul Mackenzie allegedly had branches of his Good News International Church.

The senators appealed to Kenyans, regardless of their location, to come forward with any information that could help unravel the mystery surrounding the radical teachings of Pastor Mackenzie.

“We have been able today to visit the place known as Galilea where Mr. Mackenzie was having his house, we have been able to see where he would institute punishment and judgement to his followers in the name of religion,” he said.

“For the remaining days of the 90 days we will execute this mandate and we will come up with a good report and we are promising Kenyans this will not happen again,” he said.

The committee chairman highlighted that they had received credible information suggesting the existence of external influences behind the cultic teachings, and they pledged to thoroughly investigate the matter.

Mungata also clarified that the committee’s role was not that of a judicial commission or a court, but rather to gather all the information they could in order to create a legislative framework governing the operations of religious institutions. This framework would be part of their report.

The Tana river Senator acknowledged that locals had reported their concerns to the police but no action was taken. Mungatana said the are waiting for a report from the Department of Police dealing with international affairs, which would form an integral part of the Senate report.

Any individuals mentioned in the report would face legal consequences in accordance with the law, he added.

Accompanying Mungatana were Vice Chair and Nominated Senator Shakila Abdalla, Migori Senator Eddy Oketch, Tabitha Mutinda (nominated), Faki Mohamed (Mombasa), William Cheptumo (Baringo), Veronica Maina (nominated), Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka, and Hamida Kibwana.

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