A cult leader in Kenya has been charged with murdering one hundred and ninety-one people after more than four hundred bodies were found buried in shallow graves in a remote forest in the east of the country.
Survivors and victims’ families have said Paul Mackenzie urged followers to fast in order to “go see Jesus”, as he and twenty-nine others pleaded not guilty in a court in the coastal town of Malindi.
Mackenzie has already been charged with committing acts of terror, child cruelty and torture, which he has denied.
Police and prosecutors allege that apart from starvation, some victims may have been strangled, suffocated or beaten to death using blunt objects.
Shakahola is sparsely populated and now under 24-hour police guard. The authorities have declared it a crime scene and access is forbidden.
Initially, the worshippers would travel there and return home. But from late 2022, the followers claim, they were not allowed to leave.