The controversial Shakahola cult leader, pastor Paul Mackenzie, and his co-accused will be held in custody for a further 30 days awaiting the court’s decision on the state’s application to extend their detention for an additional 180 days.
In the application, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Jami Yamina outlined what he deemed compelling reasons for detention, citing it as the least restrictive measure while investigations are ongoing. He argued that the accused pose a suicide risk, justifying their continued custody until investigations are concluded and charges are filed.
Jami informed Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda that the application is driven by the magnitude and complexity of DNA extraction required for severely decomposed bodies unearthed from the Shakahola forest.
The State Prosecutor additionally stated that investigators are in the process of identifying each of the bodies through a combination of scientific and traditional methods. This effort aims to restore the identity and dignity of the deceased, considering it a last vestige of liberty taken away by Mackenzie’s crimes.
The court was informed that out of the 429 bodies, 184 are children, including 131 who are identified as the sons and daughters of Mackenzie and his 28 co-suspects as well as another 66 before Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido.
The deceased individuals succumbed to various causes, with the majority attributed to starvation and dehydration, while others perished due to strangulation and blunt trauma.
Jami further argued that for charges to be accurately formulated and the case effectively presented, the identities of the children and other deceased should be explicitly outlined in both the charge sheet and autopsy reports.
The prosecution also mentioned that terrorism laws permit up to 360 days of lawful detention during the completion of investigations. The DPP emphasized that Parliament endorsed extending the detention period from 90 days to 360 days to address the specific needs of complex cases.
Jami also objected to the release of six out of the 29 Shakahola suspects, as suggested in the social inquiry reports conducted by the Probation and Aftercare Services department.
He informed Magistrate Shikanda that the suspects needed to undergo de-radicalization for successful reintegration into society.
Additionally, he pointed out that family members of the six individuals have not provided explanations on how these suspects will not pose a threat to themselves or others.
As of Monday, November 20, Mackenzie had been in police and prison custody for 219 days since his arrest on April 15. All his associates had also spent over 150 days in custody, except for his wife, Rhodah Mumbua, who was granted release on a Sh400,000 bond.
Mackenzie’s lawyer, Wycliff Makasembo, argued in court on Monday that the continued detention of his clients by the State amounts to an abuse of their rights.
Makasembo, in his opposition to the application for the extended detention of the suspects for an additional 180 days, argued that the application is based on rumors and unfounded fears, and thus should not be granted by the court.
He asserted that no material, classified as urgent, had been submitted to the Shanzu Magistrate Court to justify the need for prolonged detention.
“A quick reading of the application shows that the investigators are at a loss. They do not know the specific roles played by each of the accused persons. They do not have any evidence against Mackenzie and his co-accused,” argued Makasembo.
The lawyer emphasized that the investigation officers should provide the court with a detailed account of their accomplishments during the more than six months they have held Mackenzie in custody.
Paul Mackenzie and his co-accused will be held in custody until December 22 when the court will make a ruling on the application to detain him and his co-accused for another 6 months.