Kenyan authorities have discovered the remains of 26 more people who are believed to be members of a Christian cult in the Shakahola forest near the coastal town of Malindi. This brings the total number of corpses linked to the cult found in the last three days to 47. The cult members believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death. The police began exhuming bodies on Friday, and the investigations are ongoing. The police believe that the number of bodies may continue to rise.
All 47 people are believed to be followers of the Good News International Church. Earlier this month, the police rescued 15 members of the group, all of whom had been told to starve themselves to death. Four of them died before they reached the hospital. The police arrested the leader of the church, Paul Mackenzie, on April 15, after a tip-off suggested the existence of shallow graves belonging to at least 31 of Mackenzie’s followers. Local media reported that Mackenzie has refused to eat or drink while in police custody.
Last month, Mackenzie turned himself in and was charged after two children starved to death in the custody of their parents. He was later released on bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings ($700). Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki has declared the entire 800-acre forest a crime scene and sealed it off. He called for tighter regulation, including self-regulation, of all religious institutions in the country, saying that this “horrendous blight on our conscience” must lead to severe punishment for those responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people.