58 Bodies Found Inside Cult That Starved Themselves to 'Meet Jesus'
A pastor of the Good News International Church reportedly asked his followers to starve themselves in order to "meet Jesus."
Daily Star reports that almost 60 bodies have been discovered on the land owned by a Kenyan pastor, Paul Makenzi, who was arrested for ordering his followers to "fast to death." The Kenyan authorities have shockingly revealed that "there are more shallow graves on the land which are yet to be excavated."
"Today we have exhumed 26 more bodies and this brings the total number of bodies from that place to 47," said the head of criminal investigations in Malindi, eastern Kenya, Charles Kamau, reports First Post. He revealed that the search was continuing not just for bodies but for survivors of the cult. Malindi sub-county police chief John Kemboi briefed that pastor Paul Makenzi was arrested on April 14 over his links to cultism.
The Kenyan police were alerted to the situation by a tip-off from a member of the public. During the police raid of the pastor's property in Malindi, officers discovered 15 emaciated people – four of which tragically passed away later. Per CBS News, Kenyan President William Ruto on Monday compared the dozens of starvation deaths among the followers of a pastor in the south of the country with the results of terrorist acts, as the new death toll rose to 73. He maintained that the pastor, Paul Makenzi, who is in police custody, should be in prison. "What we are seeing ... is akin to terrorism," Ruto said. "Mr. Makenzi ... pretends and postures as a pastor when in fact he is a terrible criminal."
Makenzi was arrested on suspicion of telling his followers to fast to death in order to meet Jesus. A group of emaciated people was rescued alive, but some of them later died. Authorities then turned their investigation to the dozens of shallow graves marked with crosses on Makenzi's 800-acre ranch. The total death toll now stands at 73, with 26 new bodies exhumed on Monday, Malindi sub-county police chief John Kemboi revealed. The Kenyan Red Cross Society on Sunday said, "112 people had been reported missing at a tracing desk set up at Malindi, where the pastor's main church was located."
Makenzi went on a four-day hunger strike while in police custody but has since been released on bail. The "cult pastor" has been arrested twice before. Once in 2019 and recently in March 2023, in relation to the deaths of children. Each time, he was released on bond, and both cases are still tied up in court proceedings. Local politicians have urged the court not to release him this time, decrying the spread of cults in the Malindi area. Makenzi remains in custody and a court allowed investigators to hold him for two weeks as a probe into the deaths continues.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki described the case as "the clearest abuse of the constitutionally enshrined human right to freedom of worship." However, attempts to regulate religion in the country, which has a majority of Christians, have been fiercely opposed in the past as attempts to undermine constitutional guarantees for a division between church and state. Cults are a common practice in Kenya, which has a largely religious society but the shocking case has prompted calls for stricter control of religious denominations in the country.