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4 die while fasting ‘to meet Jesus’

Four adherents of a cultic organization died while being rushed to hospital after police rescued them from starving themselves to death, following radical teachings from their controversial pastor Paul Makenzi.

Eleven others are admitted at the Malindi Sub County Hospital, three in critical condition, after a long and treacherous journey that forced police and medical personnel to trek for more than five kilometers to access the victims.

Police officers led by Malindi Sub County Criminal Investigations Officer Charles Kamau rescued 15 people from a sprawling forest in remote Shakahola area, but the four died in the hands of the medics as they were being aided to reach the vehicles that had been unable to move into the forests where the victims were.

Kamau told journalists in his office Friday morning that his office had received a report that many people had been sighted in the forest starving themselves to death following the teachings of Pastor Paul Makenzi of the Good News International Church.

“We went there based on intelligence reports that there were people who were cited by members of the public having been starved somewhere and were just about to die. We rushed there and we were able to rescue 15 people but four died as we were proceeding to hospital,” Kamau told journalists in his office Friday.

“The area is very vast and vehicles could not reach where they were, so as we were taking them to the vehicles, four succumbed and the rest were taken to hospital, three being in critical condition,” he added.

He noted that the information received was that the people were being starved after being radicalized by the pastor who told them that their work on earth is done and they should die and go and meet their creator.

“The information at hand is that there are more people who are believed to be in the bushes and we are still in the course of investigations to verify how true that is,” he said.

Mr. Kamau hinted at arresting the radical pastor despite the fact that last month, the man was arrested and arraigned in court, but a magistrate denied the investigators more time to hold him for interrogation and instead released him on a Sh10,000 bond.

The DCI officer at the same time said those rescued could face charges of attempted murder, noting that starving oneself to death is akin to attempted murder.

Meanwhile, the pastor has come under fire from members of the public, politicians, human rights activists and even fellow pastors for his teachings that have forced many of his followers to abandon anything secular in the name of God.

Bishop Thomas Kakala of the Jesus Cares Centre (JCC) church in Malindi described Makenzi’s teachings as cultic and called on members of the public not to condemn all pastors for the actions of one.

Kakala and human rights activist Victor Kaudo called upon the government to take decisive actions against the pastor in order to save members of the public from being duped into joining the cult.

Nominated Member of the Kilifi County Assembly Justine Rafiki urged Governor Gideon Mung’aro to liaise with security apparatus in the county to stop the pastor from inflicting more harm to Kilifi residents.

Pastor Makenzi was arrested about one month ago after two children died of starvation enforced by their parents following the pastor’s alleged teachings.

He was released on a Sh10,000 cash bail after a resident magistrate struck out an application to have the preacher detained by police for more investigations.

The police officers are also yet to carry out a court order to exhume the bodies of other children due to the absence of a government pathologist, who is being awaited from Nairobi.

By Emmanuel Masha 

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