Kenyan police have exhumed 47 bodies in the Shakahola forest near Malindi, on the coast of Kenya. The graves contain the remains of both adults and children, with some believed to belong to a family of five, including three children and their parents. The exhumations are ongoing, with police investigating Paul Makenzie Nthenge, the leader of the Good News International Church, for his involvement in the deaths. He has been described as a “cult leader” and is currently in police custody.
Nthenge is alleged to have instructed his followers to starve themselves to death in order to “meet Jesus.” The investigation began on April 15, when police discovered four bodies suspected of having died of starvation. Pathologists will take DNA samples to determine the cause of death for the victims. Kenyan Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki has declared the entire forest a crime scene, and all 800 acres have been sealed off.
Kenya is a religious country, and cases of individuals being lured into dangerous and unregulated churches or cults are not uncommon. The Good News International Church is believed to have been baptizing followers in ponds before instructing them to fast. The case has prompted calls for regulation of churches and religious organizations in Kenya to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Nthenge has denied any wrongdoing but remains in custody pending a court appearance.
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