Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

The Kenyan government says it will release some of the bodies belonging to victims of the Shakahola starvation cult next week.

At least 34 bodies have been identified and linked to their families, out of the hundreds that were exhumed last year.

The bodies of 429 people, including children, were dug up from graves in Shakahola, a remote forest outside the coastal town of Malindi. Most showed signs of starvation and assault.

Survivors and victims’ families said self-proclaimed pastor Paul Mackenzie encouraged members of his Good News International Church to move there and prepare for the end of the world.

Survivors say he instructed them to fast so that they could “get to heaven”.

The government will counsel victims’ families but will not assist them to transport the bodies for burial, said chief government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor on Wednesday.

Mr Mackenzie has denied responsibility for the deaths. He and several of his followers are currently on trial for several charges, including terrorism, murder and torture.

New exhumations are scheduled to be done in one to two weeks, Dr Oduor said, adding that 35 more grave sites have been identified.

The planned fresh exhumations could drive up the death toll further.

Dr Oduor said linking bodies to their families had been slow because “people are not coming up to claim their loved ones”.

By Joy

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