Shakahola Cult Trial Witness Breaks Down Narrating Heartbreaking Tale in Mackenzie Case

July 11, 2024

Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Leah Juma was compelled to adjourn the testimony of a key witness in the trial against suspected cult leader Paul Mackenzie in Mombasa.

The witness, a senior consultant surgeon, provided an emotional recount of the profound impact Mackenzie’s teachings had on his brother, wife, and at least six children, who were allegedly indoctrinated by Mackenzie’s Good News International Ministries in Kilifi County.

In his sworn statement, the surgeon detailed how his brother and his family abandoned conventional education in favor of Mackenzie’s doctrine. He testified that in 2018, his younger brother and his wife withdrew their two children from St. Andrew Primary School in Malindi.

He described efforts to intervene, which included holding family meetings to discuss the matter, but his brother remained steadfast in his belief that education was ungodly.

“Shocked by my younger brother’s response, I convened a family meeting at our parents’ home, which was attended by my parents and all my siblings, including my brother, his wife, and their two children,” the witness testified.

“During the meeting, he reiterated that education was ungodly and that he would not allow his children to attend school. His wife further told the meeting that if her husband ever decided to return their children to school, he would be the one to wake up every morning to prepare them.”

The witness informed the court that at the time of this decision, both his brother and his wife were devoted followers of Pastor Mackenzie at his Furunzi church in Malindi.

Relocation to Shakahola

In 2019, he heard that Mackenzie had closed his churches. In early 2020, his brother, his wife, and their children relocated to land within the Shakahola Forest in Chakama Location, where Mackenzie’s followers were instructed to settle and farm.

During this period, the family is believed to have had four more children.

The witness further disclosed alarming details he learned from local media about Mackenzie’s followers being coerced into fasting until death to hasten their journey to heaven.

“In March 2023, I heard on one of the local radio stations that followers of Pastor Mackenzie were being forced to fast until they died to go to heaven. I knew my brother was inside the forest. I was also informed that my brother and his two children had died due to starvation and that their bodies were buried in the same place,” he said.

This prompted him to investigate, leading to a confrontation with Mackenzie’s guards and subsequent police involvement. He said he arranged to go to Shakahola with a former General Service Unit (GSU) officer who lived in the forest and knew the exact location of his brother’s home.

“I wanted to go there for fact-finding, to see my brother and confirm if his children had died and been buried there.”

Confrontation With Mackenzie’s Guards

The witness recounted that he traveled to Shakahola with relatives and neighbors later in 2023 after learning about the deaths of hundreds of Mackenzie’s followers due to starvation.

Upon arrival at the forest, he found Mackenzie’s guards armed with bows and arrows. They assaulted him and arrested the ex-GSU officer, who was later taken to Langobaya Police Station.

“I wish to further state that on April 14, 2023, at around noon, I received a call from the then Sub-county Criminal Investigations Officer of Malindi, Mr. Kamau, requesting ambulance services in Shakahola to rescue emaciated followers of Pastor Paul Mackenzie,” he told the court.

“I left for Shakahola aboard a Malindi Sub-county Hospital ambulance, but upon reaching the Baolala area, we met police officers who confirmed that three out of the persons in their Land Cruiser were already dead and two men, who appeared to be in critical condition, were transferred to our ambulance.”

The rescued victims were rushed to Malindi Hospital. One escaped immediately upon arrival, while the other was admitted, the court heard.

The witness later discovered that his brother had not died.

“On May 16, 2023, I received information that my younger brother had been arrested in connection with the deaths in Shakahola and was being held at the Watamu Police Station. I have since visited him, although I do not know the whereabouts of his wife or his children, whom I have now come to learn should be numbering six because he had more children in the period I was not interacting with him,” the witness testified.

“While visiting him at the Watamu Police Station, I enquired about the whereabouts of his wife and children, but he informed me that he had taken them to a secret place in November 2013 and that they were all safe.”

The witness noted that before his brother joined Paul Mackenzie’s Good News International Ministries, he was a good and focused person right from high school and college, and he worked as a building contractor earning good money.

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