Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Eighty members of a Ugandan religious cult who had been convinced to travel to Ethiopia and starve themselves have been repatriated, authorities in Uganda say.

Their pastor allegedly told them that they would “meet Jesus Christ” after fasting for 40 days.

A joint police operation is now leading a search for cult leader Simon Opolot.

In Kenya, a different religious figure is alleged to have convinced hundreds to starve themselves to death.

The 80 members of the Christ Disciples Church reportedly got rid of their belongings earlier this year and then travelled from a rural area in eastern Uganda to southern Ethiopia, a distance of around 500km (320 miles).

“The returnees have said Pastor Opolot convinced them to fast for 40 days so that they can meet Jesus on the 41st day,” Simon Mundeyi, the spokesperson for Uganda’s internal affairs ministry is quoted by the Daily Monitor newspaper as saying.

“The condition was that to meet Jesus, they needed to be in Ethiopia, and according to him, the world would immediately end.”

But once the Ethiopian authorities learned of their arrival in March, they were picked up and looked after until the repatriation was arranged, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Mundeyi is quoted by the Daily Monitor as saying that members of the group, mainly made up of teachers and civil servants, were already very fragile after their long journey without any food.

In 2000, at least 700 Ugandan members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God died after being locked in a church which was then set alight.

In Kenya, Pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie is currently in custody, accused of urging people to starve themselves to death. More than 280 bodies have been found in shallow graves in a remote forest.

By Joy

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